Theresa May sparked fury from MPs across the Commons as she revealed the so-called meaningful vote on her Brexit deal won’t take place until the week of January 14.
After returning from Brussels empty-handed in the search for legally-binding concessions, the prime minister admitted to parliament on Monday after that the clock was ticking.
But Brexiteers and remainers alike erupted with anger when May went on to say MPs would not get a chance to deliver their verdict on her deal for another month.
“It is now only just over 14 weeks until the UK leaves the EU and I know many members of this House are concerned that we need to take a decision soon,” she told the Commons on Monday afternoon.
The prime minister’s announcement came as Jeremy Corbyn, who threatened to force her out if she failed to confirm a date, abandoned a planned motion of no confidence in the PM.
Corbyn attacked accused the prime minister of leading “most shambolic and chaotic government in modern political history”.
“A prime minister whose authority has been lost. A Cabinet disintegrating into cliques and factions, and a Conservative Party so fundamentally split that its very existence is being discussed,” he said.
May had planned to put her deal to a vote last week - but cancelled it at the last minute after it became clear she would lose.
She then survived an attempt by 117 Tory MPs to oust her from the leadership of the party.
Tory MP Nicky Morgan told May she would back her deal, but expressed dismay that the PM would not test it in parliament sooner.
She said: “I honestly do not think that businesses and employers or our constituents will understand why this house is going on holiday in two weeks when we should be having the meaningful vote this week.”
Pro-EU Labour MP Stella Creasy also echoed visceral anger at the PM’s delay, telling May parliament needed time to prepare.
“The British public watching us go away on holiday without having made any progress on this will not forgive any of us,” she said. “For goodness sake, prime minister, stop wasting all of our time, table that vote and let us prepare for what comes next.”
Justine Greening, who previously served as May’s education secretary, said it was a “constitutional crisis” and claimed the PM was attempting to stifle debate.
“It was clear in the summer that the PM’s deal was not going to succeed,” she said. “She now isn’t just not listening, she isn’t allowing debate.”
May said today the only way to avoid a no-deal exit was if MPs reached “an agreement” or if Brexit was abandoned.
She said no other deal was going to “miraculously appear” if hers was rejected.
And warning against a second referendum, the PM said it would “break faith with the British people” and do “irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics”.
But the PM did win round one important critic - the leader of the backbench faction of Tory eurosceptics, the ERG, Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The North East Somerset MP, whose wing of the party has argued for a “managed no-deal” congratulated the PM on winning the confidence of Tory MPs.
He told May he would therefore back her, adding he supported her facing down calls for a second referendum, which he called a “loser’s vote”.
Labour remainer Liz Kendall, meanwhile, accused the PM of attempting to save her premiership by delaying the vote and “intimidating” MPs with the prospect of no-deal.
“Isn’t the reality that this isn’t acting in the national interest but in her personal interest and neither her party nor the country will forgive her for it,” said the Leicester West MP.
Earlier today, Downing Street said a so-called managed no-deal Brexit said to be favoured by some Cabinet ministers is unlikely to be agreed by the EU.
Cabinet ministers are openly discussing how to respond to May’s Brexit deal being rejected by MPs.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd said it would be important to find out the “will of Parliament” on how to proceed, while Business Secretary Greg Clark also appeared to back an indicative vote to find out what – if anything – MPs could support.