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UK PM MAY LOSES SYMBOLIC BREXIT VOTE IN PARLIAMENT
Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a defeat on her Brexit strategy on Feb. 14, that undermined her pledge to European Union leaders to get her divorce deal approved if they grant her concessions. In a show of muscle, hardline Brexit supporters in her Conservative Party decided to abstain, handing her an embarrassing, albeit symbolic, defeat as she tries to renegotiate her deal with the EU. While it will not deter May from trying to secure changes on the most contentious issue of the deal - the Irish "backstop" - the vote does show that her pro-Brexit lawmakers are a major obstacle to passing any agreement. May was absent from the House of Commons for the debate and the outcome of the vote, which deepened the sense of political crisis over Britain's departure, more than two years after voters opted to leave the bloc by a margin of 52 percent to 48. The crunch vote is now expected to come on Feb. 27, when May is due to return to parliament—and lawmakers who fear leaving without a deal could try to seize control of Britain's departure from the EU.