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Demonstrators outside the Palace of Westminster. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal was defeated on Tuesday in the House of Commons — a vote she described earlier as "the most significant" in recent British political history — by a historic 202 to 432 margin, the biggest defeat for a reigning government in more than a century.

Why it matters: No one is really sure what happens next. The U.K. is currently set to leave the EU on March 29, a step with economic and political reverberations that will last for generations, but it's not at all clear what that exit will look like — or if it will ultimately happen on time or at all.

The big picture: Ahead of the vote, May told members: "A vote against this deal is a vote for nothing more than uncertainty, division, and the very real risk of no deal."

By the numbers: There's now a 45% chance that one of three previously extreme scenarios — fresh elections (10%), no deal (5%) or a second referendum (30%) — comes to pass, per a new forecast from the Economist Intelligence Unit.

  • Fresh elections: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn immediately tabled a motion of no confidence in May’s government in an effort to force a general election. The conventional wisdom is that members are so fearful of a Prime Minister Corbyn that they’ll back May. But the conventional wisdom has a poor track record when it comes to Brexit.
  • No deal: There’s little appetite in Westminster, or in Brussels, for the U.K. to crash out of the EU without a deal. The economic consequences would be dire. But Brexit Day is just six weeks away, and May says "no deal" is a "very real risk." She’ll almost certainly have to buy time from Brussels in order to avoid it.
  • No Brexit: A second referendum has never looked more likely. A growing chorus says it’s the only logical step, considering no possible deal commands a majority in Parliament. European Council President Donald Tusk joined in today, tweeting: "If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?"

What's next: May is required to bring another plan before Parliament within 3 days, but she doesn't have much wiggle room, as the EU says it won't renegotiate the deal. If she can't find a solution that satisfies Parliament, a second referendum — which once seemed out of the question — becomes a very real possibility.

Go deeper: Brexit's Irish border headache

Go deeper

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Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 1 hour ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.