In the days after the 2017 election there was much talk that the result had produced a stalemate Parliament with no majority in favour of any of the options to confront the big challenges the country faces.
But Theresa May did manage to cobble together a confidence-and-supply agreement with the DUP (more on that below) to give her an effective working majority to progress the day-to-day business of government. In part, this has worked because she has simply avoided bringing any really contentious issues before the Commons for votes. Remember when she wanted to reintroduce grammar schools? That went by the wayside. Of course we all agree that a new model for funding social care is an urgent national priority. But again we see no progress at all on that, which was a cornerstone of her manifesto, because the stalemate in Parliament means there is no way of getting through whatever plan her government came up with.
This strategy of kicking issues into the long grass is tenable on many domestic issues, but it falls apart when it comes to Brexit. The clock is ticking. Brexit day is just four months away, and most people think we need a deal to know where we stand by Christmas, or very early in January at the absolute latest.
So this is where the Parliamentary stalemate is really crippling the Government, and indeed the country. With the 10 DUP MPs professed to be against the PM’s deal, and at least 25 Conservatives determined to vote against too (and far more if you believe reports in today’s Telegraph), she would need around 40 Labour MPs to back her. 20 might, but 40? No chance.
So what of the other options? There might be 100 MPs who could live with no deal, maybe 150. But the vast majority are opposed.
Many also back simply remaining in the EU after all. But will a majority vote that way, defying (as it is put) the will of the people? Unlikely.
So this is where talk of a second referendum or a fresh general election to break the impasse comes in. Are they good options for the Government? No. An election is a pretty terrifying one for many, and at present Theresa May and (slightly more ambiguously) Jeremy Corbyn are both opposed to a second referendum too.
But when all other options are exhausted, and when the choice is one of these options or the default of no deal, the stalemate Parliament caused by the 2017 election means really nothing can be ruled out.
The last 2½ years since the referendum have been some of the most extraordinary in recent British political history. Don’t be too surprised if the last four months until Brexit matches and even exceeds all the drama we have seen since that fateful day in June 2016.