Two south Hertfordshire MPs were among cabinet ministers who defied government orders to reject a motion ruling out a no-deal Brexit.

Watford MP Richard Harrington and South West Hertfordshire MP David Gauke abstained on a government motion saying the UK should not leave the UK specifically on March 29, but with the option of no deal at a later date.

Read why Richard Harrington defied the whip in his own words here.

Mr Harrington, who is business minister, and Mr Gauke, Justice Secretary, were among 13 ministers to defy the whip. Work and pensions minister Sarah Newton voted against the motion and resigned from the cabinet.

Both Mr Harrington and Mr Gauke previously voted against a compromise from Tory minister Kit Malthouse, a failed amendment to delay Brexit until May 22 and then leave with a 'managed no-deal'.

They also voted against a successful amendment put forward by Labour MP Yvette Cooper ruling out a no-deal Brexit at any time.

This was seen to have wrong-footed the Government when it was passed by 312 votes to 308, leading to a whip on the Government's own motion to preserve a no-deal.

Votes by other MPs showed the different shades of opinion even among Conservatives.

Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning voted against the Government motion, for the Malthouse compromise, and against Yvette Cooper's motion.

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami abstained on both the Government motion and the Malthouse compromise, and against Yvette Cooper's motion.

St Albans MP Anne Main, a Brexit supporter, voted against the Government motion, abstained on the Malthouse compromise, and against Yvette Cooper's motion.

Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden, a parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office who opposes a no-deal Brexit, voted the same way.

MPs will vote today on whether to delay Brexit until June 30, although the Government says this will only happen if MPs back the Government's deal by March 20 - next Wednesday.

Watford's Labour parliamentary candidate Chris Ostrowski said Mr Harrington, who had voted for the Prime Minister's updated deal on Tuesday, should resign.

He said: "He promised to vote to block a no deal Brexit, but all he could do was abstain. Watford deserves better. This government is in chaos. They have failed on Brexit and they are failing the country. It's time for a general election."

Liberal Democrat candidate Ian Stotesbury criticised Mr Harrington for abstaining, even though the minister had defied the whip.

He said: "Despite promising to do all he could to stop a no deal Brexit, Richard Harrington has gone back on his word and failed to vote against no deal.

"No deal is a failure to negotiate, awful for British business and a betrayal of Watford voters - regardless of how we each voted.

"Putting a ministerial position before a crucial vote like this is an outrage."

Richard Harrington: The only way to leave the EU is with a good deal

Following the votes, Labour East of England MEP Alex Mayer welcomed the decision to rule out no deal - something she described as "the worst possible deal".

She said: "We saw chaotic scenes as Government Whips tried to get Tory MPs to vote against exactly the same motion many of them voted for half an hour earlier. Plus resignations and abstentions by ministers. What a mess.

"We should also be clear, Theresa May just whipped MPs to keep no deal as an option - that’s terrible - again putting party before country."

“But the clock is continuing to tick. MPs have said no to May’s deal as it stands and no to a no deal Brexit. So what’s now left? Surely now after two and a half years of negotiations it’s time to put this back to the people with a public vote.