BRITAIN is now in deadlock. It looks mathematically impossible for Theresa May to get her deal through Parliament. There is no majority for her deal, for a no deal exit, for a second vote, for remain, for anything…

What change can come to break the deadlock?

Mrs May was hugely weakened when her second Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, quit just 12 hours after she claimed her Cabinet was united behind her, so now, the most likely next move, in these hugely unpredictable times, is that she faces a leadership challenge.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of an 80-strong group of Brexiteers, has put in his letter asking for a vote of confidence in her. Forty-eight letters (that’s 15 per cent of the 317 Tory MPs) are required to call a vote, and Mr Rees-Mogg must be confident of reaching that threshold.

In the vote, Mrs May needs to get a majority of her MPs – 159 – to support her to remain in power. However, even if she wins but has, say, 100 or 120 voting against her, she will be even further weakened.

If she falls, even if a Brexiteer succeeds her – Dominic Raab or Penny Mordaunt – they will inherit the same mathematics.

A general election would change those mathematics, and Labour would jump at that chance because it has everything to win. But would any Conservative? Look what happened to Mrs May in 2017…

So then a second referendum hoves into view. It could break the deadlock. Those advocating this People’s Vote imagine it being a simple question: Mrs May’s deal versus remaining in the EU. This would enrage the Brexiteers, and it would be a bitter, divisive campaign. And the result would, like the first referendum which was 52 per cent to 48 per cent, be close: what would happen if it were 52/48 to remain? That would deadlock the deadlock.

Last night, Mrs May tried to bludgeon through the deadlock as if she were an iron lady that is not for turning. “Am I going to see this through?” she asked. “Yes.”

Despite her deepening weakness, she is extraordinarily resilient. In the Commons yesterday, she was at the top of her brief, answering detailed questions for three hours.

Amid the scorn and the fury, one of the most human interventions came from Middlesbrough South MP Simon Clarke. He pleaded with her to change course and showed how painfully torn MPs are becoming. He said: “Our loyalty to her and our party is set against our loyalty to our constituents.”

One commentator likened her performance to the boy on the burning deck, standing there when all had fled, feet burned to blisters, resolutely remaining as the flames licked around. And Mrs May’s course is to drive this blazing wreck onto the rocks of a Parliamentary vote she cannot win. But no one yesterday was able to map out a better course.