The meaningful vote on the British government’s Brexit withdrawal deal is set to be postponed till as late as January, as faced with certain defeat on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would be returning to emergency negotiations with Brussels in an attempt to wrestle new concessions.

After “carefully” considering concerns expressed by Parliamentarians, she told a heated session of the House of Commons that she would defer the vote until after further discussions with the leaders of other EU states and the leadership of the European Council and commission to discuss the “clear concerns” of Parliament.

The government was also looking at ways of “empowering” the House of Commons on the contentious issue of the backstop – the insurance arrangements to prevent a hard border developing in Northern Ireland. The backstop issue has been at the heart of some of the concerns, particularly from “hard” Brexiteers who fear that entering the backstop if trade talks broke down, would put Britain in indefinite customs arrangements with the EU, with no way of unilaterally withdrawing.

The decision to push back the vote – after four days of debate by MPs – faced scathing criticism from across the House, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn insisting the government had “lost control of events” and was “in disarray.” “We have endured two years of shambolic negotiations – red lines which have been boldly announced have been cast aside…,” he said, calling for the government to stand aside if it were unable to negotiate a deal.

The announcement came after days of insistence that the vote would go ahead despite signs the deal on its current terms faced a barrage of opposition from opposition parties as well as from within the Conservative Party itself and its ally the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.

The pound tumbled following the news of the postponement, which could put the vote to just over two months till March 29, when Britain is set to leave the EU. Under Brexit legislation, the deal must be passed by January 21, otherwise the government would have to present what it intends to do next, giving MPs greater opportunities to influence the process at this stage.

Whether May will be able to secure any changes on the backstop from the EU remains highly doubtful. EU leaders have repeatedly said the deal on the table was the best one available. Following news of the postponement, Guy Verhofstadt, the Brexit coordinator for the European Parliament, tweeted that the EU would “never let the Irish down,” – a clear reference to the backstop.

The pound weakened sharply following the announcement, as business leaders warned of the harmful impact the renewed uncertainty would have. “This is yet another blow for companies desperate for clarity. Investment plans have been paused for two-and-a-half years. Unless a deal is agreed quickly, the country risks sliding towards a national crisis,” warned Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI.

While Labour expressed its concerns around the “botched deal,” proponents of a second referendum also renewed their call for a new vote on Brexit. May rejected the call insisting that it was important to honour the result of the referendum, and that a new referendum would further divide the country and erode faith in politicians.