Theresa May will be forced to write to the leaders of the EU on Wednesday and implore them to postpone Brexit, with her government poised on the best way to allow Downing Street to grant a "crisis".
The government had maintained until the last moment that Brexit could proceed as planned on March 29 or after a brief "technical extension".
But after the president, John Bercow, ruled that the prime minister cannot put his agreement in parliament unchanged for a third "significant vote", his spokesman admitted that it was too late to leave with an agreement.
He said that May will write to President of the European Council Donald Tusk and ask for an extension of article 50, before the leaders of the EU meet in Brussels on Thursday.
"The prime minister will write to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, before the European Council begins, in relation to an extension," the spokesman said.
He refused to say how long he would have requested a delay, or for what purpose, simply by insisting, "you will have to wait for that letter to be published."
Asked in May if he was in agreement with the attorney general, Robert Buckland, who described the situation after Bercow's ruling on Monday as a "constitutional crisis", his spokesman said: "If I had to look back at the speech given from the prime minister, just before vote two, he said that if the MPs didn't support the significant vote two we would be in crisis. The events of yesterday tell you that that situation has come true.
The ministers discussed Brexit for about 90 minutes, in which several sources said it was a cabinet will on Tuesday.
The experts said that the opinion was more or less evenly divided, among those who preferred to request a short extension of three months, leaving the place on the edge of a Brexit without agreement in the summer – and those who want to see a lot longer delay.
Several sources have said that the cabinet ministers are not clear about May's personal position on the best way forward.
The Brexit ministers, including the leader of the municipalities, Andrea Leadsom, the secretary of transport, Chris Grayling, and the secretary of international trade, Liam Fox, protested harshly about the idea of a long extension, and intend to lobby again to May in the next 24 hours in an attempt to cancel the idea.
Leadsom also warned that she now believed her colleagues were trying to thwart Brexit and said, "This was a closet that would have delivered Brexit, but now from what I hear it doesn't seem to be."
He can also meet with colleagues in the backbench to inform them of the next steps – including former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who is widely considered to be the potential candidate in a leadership contest, if the prime minister steps aside.
A source from the locker said: "the current position is unsustainable – if they accept only a long extension the part will be divided".
Some members of the European research group (ERG) at their regular meeting in Westminster, Tuesday evening, invited the prime minister to step aside.
However, several parliamentarians who support the leave claimed to have been reassured that the intention of May was still to pursue Brexit as quickly as possible and that it would accept a longer extension only if forced by Brussels.
Meanwhile, the chief negotiator of the EU on Brexit, Michel Barnier, has hinted on Tuesday that Brussels will ask for a clear answer to the question of how the government intends to proceed as a counterpart for the granting of an extension.
"The key questions will be: does an extension increase the chances of ratification of the withdrawal agreement? Will the UK require an extension because it takes a little longer to rework the policy statement? "Barnier said.
"If not, what would be the purpose and result of an extension? And how can we ensure that at the end of a possible extension we do not return to the same situation today?"
Any extension should be approved by a vote in both houses of parliament next week, because the date of March 29 is included in the act of revocation of the EU.
And the ministers have promised that the parliament will have the opportunity to discuss how it could decide an alternative approach next Monday.
But May's spokesman insisted that his priority was to continue trying to convince parliamentarians of his agreement: "The prime minister said he believes the deal he has secured from the EU is good, and that it is the best deal available, and continues to work to find a way for the parliament to approve the agreement, so that we can move forward by leaving the EU as quickly as possible ".
Negotiations with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have continued since the weekend, in the hope that, if they signal support for its approach, the leading Brexiters, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, could swing their weight.
A thread of the talks involved Philip Hammond who discusses post-Brexit options to tax goods crossing the Irish border.
"The chancellor is a crucial figure in all this because customs and excise duties fall within his competence," said a source with knowledge of the negotiations.
"The problem we are discussing is how to tax goods – where they could be taxed, away from the border or otherwise – and how this could be done."
In addition to Hammond, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Nigel Dodds met the de facto May deputy, David Lidington, the secretary of the environment, Michael Gove, and cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill.
The discussions also focused on how Northern Irish politicians will maintain a certain political supervision of the security bloc – the agreement to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland in the event that the UK leave the EU without securing a comprehensive agreement.