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The Conservative Party lost its working majority of 1 on Tuesday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was giving an address in Parliament, with lawmaker Phillip Lee crossing the floor of the House of Commons to defect to the Liberal Democrats in dramatic fashion.

Why it matters: Parliament will vote this week on whether to block the government from carrying out a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31, assuming Johnson isn't able to strike a last-minute agreement with the European Union. Johnson has threatened to expel Conservative lawmakers who vote against the government, and he has signaled that he will call a general election if the legislation to block no-deal succeeds.

Between the lines: In the context of Brexit, it doesn't necessarily matter that Johnson has lost his majority, as a number of Conservative lawmakers are planning to vote against the government this week anyway. However, Lee's defection adds to the chaos of Johnson's short tenure as prime minister and underscores the intraparty divisions in Parliament that have hamstrung the Brexit process.

In a letter to Johnson, Lee wrote:

"Sadly, the Brexit process has helped to transform this once great Party in to something more akin to a narrow faction, where an individual's 'conservatism' is measured by how recklessly one wishes to leave the European Union. Perhaps most disappointingly, it has increasingly become infected with the twin diseases of populism and English nationalism."

The big picture: Most members of Parliament oppose a no-deal Brexit. Lawmakers' power to stop a no-deal has been severely hampered by Johnson's controversial move to suspend Parliament, which cut down on the amount of time it will be in session before Oct. 31.

Go deeper

21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.

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