The Home Secretary has been accused of hiding from her responsibilities as ministers refused to confirm if plans for a minimum price on alcohol had been scrapped.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said both Mrs May's reputation and David Cameron's authority were in "tatters" amid reports of Cabinet in-fighting over the policy.
Theresa May is alleged to have led opposition to the policy, for which her department has responsibility, and had "overruled" the Prime Minister, according to Ms Cooper.
Crime Prevention Minister Jeremy Browne was forced to come to the Commons to respond to an urgent question on the state of the plan.A base price of 45p per unit in England and Wales had been suggested in an effort to tackle problem drinking.
Mr Browne said a consultation had closed and there were "powerful arguments on both sides of the debate".
A decision would be announced once "careful evaluation" was completed, he added.
But Ms Cooper said: "I feel sorry for the minister, who has been sent in here to waffle to the world while the Home Secretary hides."
Scottish National Party MSP Bob Doris, who is deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee, has criticised the Government over reports which suggest there is a Cabinet spilt over the minimum price of alcohol.
He said: "If the reports are true that the coalition has abandoned minimum alcohol pricing because of a Cabinet split, it is a serious dereliction of responsibility which will cost lives south of the border."
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is in favour of the Government's plans to set a minimum price for alcohol, but said "it is normal" for cabinet ministers to have differing views on the issue with reports suggesting it is to be scrapped in next week's budget.
Like the Prime Minister I believe there is a case for minimum pricing, but we must wait for the results of the consultation (from the Home Office). When we have released those results the Government will announce its decision.
It is normal for cabinet ministers to have differing views.
The Government looks set to abandon plans to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol in England and Wales.
Scotland are still pressing ahead with the plan but divisions within the Cabinet showed the Prime Minister, who is in favour of the legislation, could not carry the policy in Parliament.
ITV News political correspondent Alex Forrest said "the idea of legislating for a minimum price for alcohol looks highly unlikely."
Here is her report:
The Labour leader then said Home Secretary Theresa May had overruled the Prime Minister on the minimum alcohol price amid speculation she could be the next Conservative leader.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) and the Royal College of Physicians, has urged the government to "stand firm" on introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol amid reports that David Cameron is considering dropping it.
– Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the AHA and Royal College of Physicians
The only opposing force that has emerged against MUP (minimum unit price for alcohol) in recent times has been a high profile, well-funded campaign led by the global alcohol producers. This is a group with a clear interest in prioritising profits over public health.
We urge the government to stand firm on MUP in the confidence that the evidence gets stronger, and the support base wider, for this policy by the day.
ITV News' Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg asked her Twitter followers whether the reported scrapping of minimum alcohol prices was a victory for the drinks industry or common sense prevailing.
Here is a selection of your responses:
@itvlaurak Common sense prevails. Govt's job is to take care of the big stuff we can't do as individuals and leave us to run our own lives.
@itvlaurak victory for drinks industry; 2000 lives over the next decade sacrificed; burden on NHS; more crime; trebles all round.
@itvlaurak Min unit pricing a bad idea. Easy for politicians but alcohol abuse needs thoughtful policies about the reasons and culture in uk
Eric Appleby from Alcohol Concern said the minimum alcohol pricing plans are a "targeted measure", aimed at those who are "causing a lot of the problems we see."
Last night the Telegraph reported that David Cameron will scrap plans for minimum alcohol pricing in England and Wales amid pressure from the Treasury.
The Wine and Spirit Trade Association told the BBC that consumers would "welcome" plans to drop the minimum pricing of alcohol in England and Wales.
– Miles Beale, Wine and Spirit Trade Association chief executive
Consumers will welcome the report that the prime minister is reconsidering plans to hike up the cost of alcohol.
Minimum unit pricing would penalise responsible drinkers and treat everyone who is looking for value in their shopping as a binge-drinker.