Divisions are deepening at the top of Boris Johnson’s Government over whether it should go all out for a pre-Christmas election or try again to get its Withdrawal Bill through a “broken Parliament”.

The tensions in Downing St come after the Prime Minister won a significant victory on Tuesday night when MPs for the first time voted in favour of a Brexit deal but he also suffered a major setback when they rejected his timetable to fast-track the legislation through the Commons by Thursday night.

Talks between Mr Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn to try to agree a new timetable for the bill broke down without resolution.

HeraldScotland: Camley's Cartoon: New Brexit extension in pipeline.Camley's Cartoon: New Brexit extension in pipeline.

“There was no meeting of minds,” declared a senior Conservative source, claiming the Labour leader’s position was “delay, delay, delay”.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said the Opposition was ready to work with No 10 to find a “sensible way in a reasonable time” to consider the legislation but in the meeting the Government “leant away from it but didn’t rule it out”.

By tomorrow, the EU is expected to have offered a so-called “flextension,” a flexible extension up to January 31, the date Mr Johnson was legally obliged to request under the Benn Act. At a meeting EU ambassadors agreed to back an extension but failed to reach a conclusion on its length. They are due to resume their discussions tomorrow.

However, it is suggested while Dominic Cummings, the PM’s chief adviser, and other former Leave campaigners inside Downing St are pushing for a snap “People versus Parliament” election, others such as Eddie Lister, the seasoned Government aide, and Julian Smith, the Northern Ireland Secretary, are said to be pulling for another attempt to get the legislation through Westminster by Christmas and then seek to go to the country in the spring.

One No 10 insider stressed how any time Parliament had an opportunity to vote on Brexit, it would “always choose delay”.

Noting how Parliament had handed control over to Brussels on the issue of an extension, he stressed: “We’re very clear we would like to get Brexit done by October 31; that’s what the public wants. But this broken Parliament will always choose to vote for delay rather than a deal; therefore, if this Parliament is unwilling to vote for a deal, then we will have to go for a General Election.”

Asked if the PM could seek a poll before Christmas, he replied: “Yes.”

By law, the Government has to accept whatever the EU offers in terms of an extension. Labour and the SNP have made clear once one is offered and the threat of a no-deal exit has been removed, they would support the calling of an election.

Conservative Party sources have raised the option that the Government will table a motion under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act[FTPA] to seek a two-thirds majority to back an early election on Thursday December 5.

This could take place as early as today with a Commons vote scheduled for Monday. Tory insiders believe the move will put Mr Corbyn and the Labour leadership “on the spot”.

It has also been suggested, to force an early election, the Government could even table a confidence vote in itself and abstain, hoping the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists would vote for it to spark a pre-Christmas poll.

One Tory MP told The Herald: “The last thing Nicola Sturgeon wants is an election during or just after the Alex Salmond trial, so she is desperate for an early election.”

At PMQs, her SNP colleague Ian Blackford took Mr Johnson to task over the issue of needing consent from the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly after both made clear they would not give it for the Brexit bill.

The Prime Minister told MPs: “The Scottish Parliament has no role in approving this deal. On the contrary, it is up to the Members of this Parliament to approve the deal.”

Mr Blackford seized on the words, declaring: “There we have it. The legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament is meaningless in the Prime Minister’s eyes...Our Parliament does not matter.”

Earlier, Ms Sturgeon at a joint press conference in London with her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford, said she would be “very happy” to see an election before Christmas but stressed the circumstances had to mean it did not open the risk of a no-deal Brexit.

“Voters want to see a way out of this and certainly voters in Scotland do," declared the First Minister.

She insisted an extension should not just be long enough to scrutinise the “bad” Brexit bill but “long enough to allow a general election or a referendum, or, perhaps more realistically, the former leading to the latter. That seems to me to be the only route out of this mess for the UK," Ms Sturgeon added.

During Wednesday, Mr Johnson spoke to Donald Tusk, the European Council President, Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach, and Angela Merkel, Germany's Chancellor, setting out how he believed there should be no extension beyond October 31 and it was in the interests of both the UK and the EU that Britain left the bloc on that date. However, all three support an extension.

In a separate development, Sarah Wollaston, who chairs the Commons Liaison Committee, expressed “astonishment” after the PM, just hours before he was due to give evidence to it, pulled out.

The PM, in a handwritten note, explained it would be better for him to appear some five to six months into his premiership ie January or February as was the case with his predecessors.

In response, Dr Wollaston told Mr Johnson: “It is unacceptable that you are refusing to be held to account” while her committee colleague, the SNP’s Pete Wishart, denounced Mr Johnson's “cowardly” action.

Meanwhile, today MPs are set to vote on the Queen’s Speech with the expectation it will be rejected. The FTPA means an election is not automatically sparked. No 10 made clear the Government would press on with its proposed bills on an individual basis.