Theresa May lost control of Brexit last night after MPs voted to take No Deal off the table amid a cabinet mutiny.
But the Prime Minister will attempt one last desperate roll of the dice by bringing her own defeated deal back to Parliament for a third time next week.
In chaotic scenes, a dozen members of the Government – including four Cabinet ministers – broke a three line Tory whip to abstain.
MPs will today try to take charge of Brexit and to find an alternative deal that could get over the line.
But they have a limited window of opportunity as the PM, warning rebel Brexiteers they face a long delay to Brexit unless they back her, is widely expected to give her proposal a final shot.
After MPs voted against No Deal by 321 votes to 278, majority 43, she told them they had until a crucial Brussels summit next Thursday to agree a plan.
If they come up with an alternative – or finally back her deal – Mrs May will ask EU leaders for a short extension to article 50, the process by which we leave the EU, until the end of June.
But she warned MPs that if they fail then the UK’s departure would be in the EU’s hands – which could mean a delay of up to two years.
Mrs May told MPs: “The House needs to face up to the consequences of the decisions it has taken”.
But Jeremy Corbyn raged: “Responsibility for that extension lies solely and squarely at the Prime Minister’s door.”
There were early signs that Tory MPs in the hardline Brexiteer ERG group could now back the PM’s deal.
One, Simon Clarke said: “There’s a gun to my head at this point and I think voters will appreciate we have a very limited range of options.”
The Commons descended into chaos as the Government ordered Tory MPs to vote against their own plan to rule out No Deal.
A dozen ministers abstained – including Welfare Secretary Amber Rudd, Justice Secretary David Gauke, Scots Secretary David Mundell and Business Secretary Greg Clark.
Mr Mundell said: “I’ve always opposed a No Deal Brexit . The House made its view clear [earlier]. I didn’t think it was right for me to oppose that.”
Although they would have been expected to stand down if they voted against the Government, the ministers were said to have been reassured by No 10 that abstaining would carry no punishment.
Junior welfare minister Sarah Newton quit in the voting lobbies as she decided to vote to rule out No Deal.
The Tory party descended into yet more civil war after the vote with leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg calling for them to go.
The whips office was said to be furious that No 10 had given ministers permission to abstain.
Cabinet collective responsibility collapsed further when six other cabinet ministers backed a separate proposal for a “managed no deal” despite the PM warning the plan was doomed.
MPs believe that the PM might try to bring back her deal for a third time next week – with the threat of a long delay to Brexit frightening more Tories into supporting it.
Her plan was defeated by 149 votes on Tuesday night, and previously 230.
Tory former Defence Minister Guto Bebb told the Mirror: “It would be somewhat insulting to Parliament to bring a meaningful vote 3 next week, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens.
“To ram through a deal which has been rejected so comprehensively twice would be an affront to our Parliament.”
However there were suggestions that the Speaker could block the same deal being brought back a third time.
Others predicted that Mrs May would rather go over their heads to the electorate before abandoning her Brexit plan.
Tory George Freeman said: “It’s quite clear we’re going to have to have a general election long before 2022.”
A cross-party group of MPs, led by Labour ’s Yvette Cooper and Tory Oliver Letwin, will today attempt to take over the timetable.
MPs would then get the chance to vote on other options, including a softer Brexit and a second referendum/
Ms Cooper said: “The Government should come forward with plans to hold indicative votes on different options, including a customs union, so we can get on with this.
“If the PM won’t sort this out and build some consensus on the way forward then Parliament will need to instead”.
It came after Philip Hammond, one of the most powerful ministers, called for a compromise, hinting at a softer Brexit.
The Chancellor went against Government policy to plead with MPs to help “map out a way forward”.
He told MPs: “Tomorrow, we will have the opportunity to start to map out a way forward – towards building a consensus across this House for a deal we can collectively support, to exit the EU in an orderly way to a future relationship that will allow Britain to flourish.”
Earlier Mrs May, whose voice was hoarse, also came under pressure from Mr Corbyn to outline a new plan for Brexit.
At question time, he urged her to consider backing Labour’s proposal which involved staying in an EU customs union.
“The PM doesn’t seem to understand. Her deal has been flatly rejected twice by this house by unprecedented majorities,” he said,
“Isn’t it time she moved on from her red lines and faced the reality of the situation that she has got herself, her Government and this country into?”
Environment Secretary Michael Gove also hinted yesterday that he expected indicative votes to take place next week.
A Labour spokesman said: “Of course we welcome anybody who recognises that you need to reach out, we need to find a compromise and find a deal that would be a close economic partnership with the EU.”
The EU has indicated that it would be prepared to negotiate a softer Norway-Plus style Brexit that could keep the UK in the single market and customs union. But the PM has ruled this out.
At a mini-cabinet meeting before the No Deal vote, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was said to have suggested extending Brexit by two years, to scare Brexiteer MPs into voting for the deal.