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Boris Johnson. Photo: Stefan Rousseau- WPA Pool/Getty Images

David Cameron on Monday became the fifth former prime minister of the United Kingdom to raise concerns or condemn the government's plan to break international law in order to amend the Brexit deal Boris Johnson agreed to with the European Union last year.

The state of play: Johnson is facing a possible intra-party rebellion over a new bill that would override provisions in the Brexit divorce deal related to Northern Ireland, a country in the U.K. that shares a border with EU member state Ireland.

  • With talks over a long-term free trade agreement at risk of collapse, the EU has demanded that Johnson scrap the bill and is threatening legal action if he refuses.
  • The U.K. is now likely to leave the Brexit transition period on Dec. 31 without a free trade agreement, something that experts have warned could cause significant economic disruptions.

What they're saying:

  • Theresa May (2016-2019): "How can the government reassure future international partners that the U.K. can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?"
  • David Cameron (2010-2016): "Passing an act of Parliament and then going on to break an international treaty obligation is the very, very last thing you should contemplate. It should be an absolute final resort. So I do have misgivings about what's being proposed."
  • Gordon Brown (2007-2010): "It's self-harm. You can't sign an international treaty — what was it 12 months ago? The prime minister negotiating it, he's signing it, and then break it. You've got no respect."
  • Tony Blair (1997-2007): "What is being proposed now is shocking. How can it be compatible with the codes of conduct that bind ministers, law officers and civil servants deliberately to break treaty obligations?"
  • John Major (1990-1997): "For generations, Britain’s word — solemnly given — has been accepted by a friend and foe. Our signature on any treaty or agreement has been sacrosanct. … If we lose our reputation for honoring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained."

Go deeper: Why Brexit talks have once again been thrown into chaos

Go deeper

Dec 14, 2020 - Podcasts

The Electoral College votes

Electors around the country are heading to their state capitol buildings today to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s election win. It’s normally a big ceremonial event, where guests and members of the public are welcome to watch the vote. But this year, masks, social distancing and police escorts will make it look a lot different.

  • Plus, an explainer on Brexit’s latest delay.
  • And, we take you inside a Michigan warehouse shipping out the vaccine.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.