European Council president Donald Tusk has goaded British MPs to push for a second referendum or cancel Brexit entirely, asking "who will have the courage to say what the only positive solution is" to the crisis.
In an historic landslide vote on Tuesday evening, the House of Commons tore British prime minister Theresa May's existing Brexit deal to shreds by 432 to 202 votes.
The landslide 230 vote loss is the worst House of Commons defeat in modern history, beating the 166 vote loss by a minority Labour government on October 8, 1924.
It is also likely to be on a par with the largest British parliamentary government rebellion in modern history, when 139 Labour MPs voted against then prime minister Tony Blair during a March 12, 2003, vote on declaring war on Iraq.
In an immediate reaction on Tuesday evening to the vote, European Council president Donald Tusk said the emphatic vote result makes it clear in his opinion what must happen next.
"If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?".
In a separate message on Twitter, European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker - who has cancelled scheduled meetings in Strasbourg, France, on Wednesday and will remain in Brussels in case urgent talks are needed - repeated the view.
"I take note with regret of the outcome of the vote in the House of Commons this evening. I urge the UK to clarify its intentions as soon as possible. Time is almost up."
“Companies of all sizes are now reaching the point of no return, with many now implementing contingency plans that are a large drain on time and money.
"All this stems from the lingering prospect of a ‘no deal’ Brexit that will be highly damaging for UK-Ireland trade and must be avoided.
"With €70bn worth of trade sustaining 400,000 jobs hanging in the balance, the chamber urges parliamentarians on all sides to come together to find a way forward that avoids this outcome.”