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Photo: Matt Cardy - WPA Pool/Getty Images

While U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May held a lively press conference with President Trump Friday at her country retreat, Michel Barnier, the EU's Brexit point man, was in Washington responding to her Brexit plan.

Between the lines: May is facing an intraparty revolt for allegedly going too "soft" in her plan, but parts of it still look unacceptable from Brussels. Still, EU officials aren't anxious to see May fall, and a "no deal" Brexit would also damage Europe. So can Barnier show a bit of flexibility?

  • Early signs aren't all that promising. Take the EU's single market, which allows goods, capital, services, and labor to travel freely around the continent. May wants to stay in the single market for goods, but not for services — and don't get her started on free movement of people.
  • Barnier, speaking at the Carnegie Endowment, called the single market the EU's "biggest asset" and said there's no room there for flexibility. "We respect their red lines," he said, "but because of those red lines they close doors."
  • He also said he plans to "do everything for this Brexit to be unique," meaning he won't give May the kind of deal that would tempt other countries to leave.

What to watch: May will have to make concessions to Brussels, then turn around and sell that deal to parliament. With the Conservatives split and Labour likely to vote "no" in hopes of toppling May's government, that might not be possible.

  • That could mean fresh elections, or even a second referendum. Either would take time — and the clock is ticking. Barnier and the EU may at least be flexible on that point, and grant May an extension.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
19 mins ago - World

John Kerry and China's long road ahead on climate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Brian Snyder/AFP via Getty Images

Yes, special climate envoy John Kerry's really in China and no, don't look for a huge breakthrough between the world's two largest carbon-emitting nations.

Driving the news: The State Department yesterday announced Kerry's visit this week, confirming plans that began emerging Saturday.

39 mins ago - Podcasts

Coinbase president Emilie Choi on mainstreaming crypto

Coinbase plans to go public on Wednesday, in a watershed moment for the cryptocurrency industry.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Coinbase president and COO Emilie Choi about how she thinks about crypto, why Coinbase eschewed a traditional IPO and if we’re ever going to use bitcoin to buy a cup of coffee.

Hundreds of corporations sign statement opposing restrictive voting bills

Former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault. Photo: Earl Gibson III/WireImage)

Hundreds of companies and executives released a letter on Wednesday condemning legislation that restricts "any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot," per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the most concerted action yet by big business in opposition to GOP-sponsored bills at the state level that limit mail-in ballots, implement new voter ID requirements and slash registration options, among other measures.

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