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May could face another Brexit defeat in parliament

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May could face a defeat in parliament on Thursday over her plan to renegotiate the Brexit deal, undermining her pledge to the European Union that, with changes, she can get the agreement approved.

FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the press at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

Thursday’s symbolic vote was seen by May’s team as little more than a rubber stamp of her plan to secure changes to the divorce deal with the EU, giving her more time to satisfy lawmakers’ concerns over one part of it – the Irish backstop.

But hardline Brexit supporters in her governing Conservative Party are angry over what they say is her acceptance of ruling out a no-deal departure, something May and her team deny, saying by law Britain will leave the EU on March 29 with or without an agreement.

The latest twist in the two-year negotiation to leave the EU underlines the deep divisions in parliament over how, or even whether, Britain should leave the bloc in the country’s biggest political and trade policy shift in more than 40 years.

A rebellion, even in a symbolic vote, would be a blow to May, who has insisted to EU leaders that if they offer her more concessions to the deal agreed in November, she can command a majority in parliament and get the agreement passed.

“It is important that MPs (Members of Parliament) support the prime minister today in order to send another clear message to Brussels on the need to address parliament’s concerns about the backstop so we can leave on time with a deal on March 29,” May’s spokesman told reporters.

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