Theresa May will not trigger Article 50 at its earliest opportunity and will wait until nearer the end of March, despite the House of Commons being expected to pave the way for the process to begin later tonight (13 March).

It was reported May was considering launching the formal process of exiting the EU the day after MPs vote on two amendments to the Brexit Bill – on guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals and a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal – that were voted down by Lords.

Both the ammendments are expected to pass in the Commons vote before being 'ping-ponged' between Lords and MPs until both houses agree on the exact wording of the bill.

This timeline seemed less likely after Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced she will push for a second Independence Referendum and hopes a ballot will take place between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.

However, 10 Downing Street have said May will more likely trigger Article 50 towards the end of the March – an estimation the PM has set for several months – with the start of next week estimated to be the earliest opportunity.

A spokesperson added: "I have said END [their capitals] many times but it would seem I didn't put it in capital letters quite strongly enough."

Announcing her hopes to hold an IndyRef2 as part of her plans to "take all possible steps" to ensure the Scotland remains in the EU, Sturgeon said: "The UK government was clear in 2014 that an independence referendum should, in their words, be made in Scotland by the people of Scotland. That is a principle that should be respected today. The detailed arrangements of a referendum, including its timing, must be for the Scottish Parliament to decide."

Sturgeon added: "If Scotland is to have a real choice, when the terms of Brexit are known but before it is too late to choose our own course, then that choice must be offered between the Autumn of 2018 and the spring of 2019."

In response, May said; "The evidence clearly shows that a majority of people in Scotland do not want a second independence referendum. Another referendum would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time.

"The Scottish Government should focus on delivering good government and public services for the people in Scotland."