JUST when the great drama of the Brexit day seemed to be the novel sight of MPs freestyling their way through a series of indicative votes, Theresa May played what must be the last card left in her desperately weak hand: she would resign if MPs backed her deal.

It changed everything - and yet it left everything still chaotically up in the air and no obvious conclusion in sight.

Tory hardliners, who just weeks ago condemned her to the biggest defeat in Parliamentary history, began to fall in behind her, hoping they could install one of their own as her replacement to lead the second stage of Brexit. The two early favourites are Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, although early favourites rarely succeed, as Michael Heseltine in 1991 and Michael Portillo in 2001 discovered. Watch Dominic Raab or Matthew Hancock as the dark horses.

But then the Democratic Unionists said they could never back the deal because of the backstop, and so the numbers still don’t seem to add up for Mrs May. She may try and force the Speaker to give her a third meaningful vote in the hope of a miracle, but she could end up weaker than ever, clinging to power that she no longer wants, with no authority and with the rudderless, leaderless country drifting, all at sea.

The results of the indicative votes also left the nation utterly becalmed. They were spectacularly inconclusive. There were no majorities in favour of anything, although it could be argued that the hardest Brexit was the most decisively defeated and the closest to victory was the softest Brexit of a customs union.

The motion pioneered by Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson, which would lead to a second referendum, was the most popular, but it was 27 votes shy of being approved.

The MPs will have another go on Monday, but neither of their leading motions offers a way through the immediate impasse.

Mrs May’s deal still looks unpassable, no-deal is still no go, a second referendum is still not possible, MPs can still not agree on anything, the country is still not moving forward.

So an extension to Article 50 now looks likely, possibly until April 2020 which means we will take part in May’s Euro-election. If she were brave, Mrs May would add a confirmatory referendum to get her deal over the line, but a general election is probably yesterday’s only winner.