Theresa May has admitted she will not get a Brexit deal in time for MPs to hold a "meaningful vote" this week, amid warnings time is running out for an agreement before Britain leaves the EU .
Speaking on her way to an EU-League of Arab States summit in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, Mrs May said: "I was in Brussels last week. Ministers were in Brussels last week. My team will be back in Brussels again this coming week. They will be returning to Brussels on Tuesday.
"As a result of that we won't bring a meaningful vote to Parliament this week. But we will ensure that that happens by March 12.
"But it is still within our grasp to leave the European Union with a deal on March 29."
Mrs May is to hold talks with EU leaders at a summit in Egypt as she battles to break the deadlock in the Brexit negotiations.
She has vowed to Tory grassroots activists that she will not allow the referendum vote for Britain to leave the EU to be frustrated.
Ahead of her departure to Egypt, Downing Street released details of her speech to a closed meeting of the National Conservative Convention (NCC) in Oxford yesterday, when she told supporters the government's focus on delivering Brexit must be "absolute".
However, her acknowledgement that she cannot get a deal to put to MPs this week, means there will now be a further series of votes in the Commons on an amendable government motion on Wednesday.
A cross-party group of MPs seeking to block a no-deal break immediately confirmed they would be tabling an amendment giving the House the power to demand a delay to Brexit if an agreement is not in place by mid-March.
Mrs May’s decision to delay the vote has been excoriated by the European Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt.
In a tweet this evening, Mr Verhofstadt said he had witnessed many "surprising decisions" in politics, but branded Mrs May's delayed vote as "close to being one of the most reckless."
Kicking the can down the road only adds to the crippling uncertainty for businesses on both sides of the channel & for millions of citizens. I have seen many surprising decisions in a lifetime in politics. But this is close to being one of the most reckless. https://t.co/PNqmJtBrnq— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) February 24, 2019
Gove rejects calls to sack MPs who called for delay on Brexit
Meanwhile, Britain's environment minister Michael Gove has rejected calls for three Cabinet ministers who warned they could back moves to delay Brexit if there is no deal with the EU in the next few days to be sacked.
Amber Rudd, Greg Clark and David Gauke said there was a clear majority in Parliament in favour of extending the Article 50 withdrawal process rather than to "crash out" in a "disastrous" no-deal.
Mr Gove said their statement was an "expression of their views" and that it remained government policy to leave the EU on 29 March.
However he dismissed calls from some Tory MPs for the trio to be sacked for breaking Cabinet collective responsibility.
"When we are facing the difficult choices that we have, we can try and say 'Aha' and heresy hunt and say 'You are wrong here' or 'You are wrong there'. I think that is counterproductive. I think it is alien to the temper of our times," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.
"When you have colleagues who have expressed concerns, it is important in a civilised way to listen to those concerns and seek to reconcile those concerns with the vital importance of making sure that we get a deal that averts either no Brexit or no deal.
"They are good colleagues. I think it would be completely inappropriate, given the nature of the conversations that the country is having about Brexit, to try to strike macho postures when what we really need is unity."