Theresa May’s authority has taken another devastating blow after a raft of ministers defied her in a Commons vote when MPs rejected the “chaos” of a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances.

After the 149-vote majority against her Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday, the Prime Minister suffered two more humiliating Commons defeats.

A rebel amendment, tabled by Tory backbencher Caroline Spelman, to take a no-deal outcome permanently off the table was unexpectedly passed by 312 votes to 308, a majority of just four.

The decision was later confirmed by a more emphatic 321 to 278 vote, a majority of 43, overriding a Government motion from Mrs May that would have rejected no-deal on the scheduled date of March 29 but left it on the table for other times.

The Government lost the main vote despite issuing a three-line whip; 13 ministers defied their party leader.

These included four Cabinet ministers - Amber Rudd, David Mundell, Greg Clark and David Gauke – who abstained.

No 10 made clear that if ministers had voted against the Government line, then they would have been expected to resign but it was reticent about any action that would be taken against the 12 who abstained. One rebel, Sarah Newton, voted for the amended motion and resigned as a Work and Pensions Minister.

Last night, the Scottish Secretary was adamant he would not resign. He tweeted: “I’ve always opposed a no-deal Brexit.

“The House made its view clear by agreeing the Spelman amendment, I didn’t think it was right for me to oppose that. The PM has my full support in her objective of leaving the EU with a deal to deliver an orderly Brexit.”

But the SNP called on Mr Mundell to go for failing to vote against a no-deal Brexit, which, it said, could cost 100,000 Scottish jobs and plunge Scotland's economy into recession.

Drew Hendry, the party’s business spokesman, said: "David Mundell must resign; he has proved himself utterly incapable of standing up for Scotland's interests.”

The Scottish Secretary’s colleague Stephen Hammond, the Health Minister, said Government whips "asked me to vote against the motion, as amended; to reject no-deal" but he stressed: "I could not do this as I regard no-deal as a disaster; therefore, I abstained, despite being a Government minister."

Even though Mrs May faced yet another Commons humiliation, she held out the prospect of a third "meaningful vote" on her Brexit deal within the next week. It was suggested that she had already had talks about this with the Democratic Unionists and leaders of the Tory Brexiteer European Research Group.

Today, a Government motion for debate offers to seek a one-off extension delaying Brexit to June 30 if MPs approved the deal negotiated with the EU by next Wednesday; the day before the European Council.

But the PM warned if the deal - already twice rejected by massive majorities - were not approved, a longer extension would be needed, requiring Britain to take part in the European Parliament elections in May.

"I do not think that would be the right outcome," Mrs May told MPs. "But the House needs to face up to the consequences of the decisions it has taken."

Jeremy Corbyn told MPs the PM had repeatedly offered a choice between her deal and no deal, declaring: "In the last 24 hours, Parliament has decisively rejected both."

The Labour leader went on: "Parliament must now take control of the situation. Myself, the Shadow Brexit Secretary and others will have meetings with members across the House to find a compromise solution that can command support in the House."

Yvette Cooper, the Labour MP who co-sponsored the Spelman amendment said: “The House of Commons has voted decisively tonight against the chaos of no-deal. We are in this position because the Prime Minister has refused to consult or build consensus and refused to allow votes on other Brexit options. That needs to be urgently sorted out now.

“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 Prime Minister won’t sort this out and build some consensus on the way forward then Parliament will need to instead.”

Her Labour colleague, Maria Eagle said Mrs May had "lost all authority" following the votes.

The Merseyside MP tweeted: "She whipped it [having said she wouldn't] voted against it [having said she'd vote for it] and lost big. She then told the House 'nothing has changed.' She has lost all authority."

On the prospect of MPs voting on a selection of Brexit options, the PM’s spokesman made clear: "We have no plans for indicative votes, I've said that on a number of occasions.

"What you have seen in Parliament in recent weeks is a series of plans being put before Parliament by opposition parties and they have all been rejected."

Moments after the votes, in a charged atmosphere, the PM accepted there was a "clear majority" against no-deal in the Commons.

But, to loud cries of “resign” and “no,” she insisted no-deal remained the default option in UK and EU law unless a Withdrawal Agreement was reached.

Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, said afterwards: "What you saw from the Prime Minister when she spoke after the votes is that she put her head in the sands; she is effectively trying to ignore the House of Commons."

No 10 explained the Government motion tabled for debate today set out the options on delaying Brexit:

*if MPs backed a Withdrawal Agreement within the next seven days, the PM would seek a one-off extension to June 30 to pass necessary legislation or

*if no agreement was approved by the time of the European Council on March 21, "it is highly likely the European Council...would require a clear purpose for any extension, not least to determine its length, and any extension beyond June 30 2019 would require the United Kingdom to hold European Parliament elections in May 2019".

Downing St made clear there were no plans to go back to Brussels for more negotiations.

Asked whether a deal needed to be passed before the European summit, the PM’s spokesman replied: "If the House wishes for the Prime Minister to be in a position where she can request only a short technical extension, then a deal would have to be agreed before the end of next week."

Brussels responded to the Commons vote by echoing Mrs May. “There are only two ways to leave EU: with or without a deal.

“The EU is prepared for both. To take no-deal off the table, it is not enough to vote against no deal; you have to agree to a deal. We have agreed a deal with the PM and EU is ready to sign it,” declared a European Commission spokesman.

Earlier at Westminster during his Spring Statement, Philip Hammond, warned Britain would face "significant disruption" in the short and medium term if it crashed out of the EU without a deal.

The Chancellor said there would be a "smaller, less prosperous" economy in the long term with higher unemployment, lower wages and higher prices in shops.

He also signalled that a softer Brexit might now be the only way forward, telling 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."