IT has been a week of small margins, of bits and whits, of dots and jots, of scintallas and tittles, of smidgens and smitchels and even smitches.

Theresa May’s Government won a crucial vote on a customs union with the EU by just 307 votes to 301 – just three MPs either way, and she would have lost which would have taken the Government into a confidence vote.

So tiny was the margin that the Tories disgracefully broke a “pairing” arrangement to sneak an extra vote, but even so, they only won the day with the support of four Labour rebels.

It left Mrs May on a tightrope. Fifteen per cent of her MPs – 48 – have to hand in letters calling for a vote of confidence in her to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee. Estimates vary. Hardline Brexiters think they are “there or thereabouts”; Mrs May’s people think it’s so close that there were threats to withdraw election funding from unfaithful MPs, and they were thinking of calling an early start to the summer holidays so no more could hand in letters.

Some MPs are playing hokey cokey with their letters. On Wednesday night, staunch Brexiter Simon Clarke, of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, admitted he’d put his letter in and then he’d put his letter out. Therefore, when its all shaken about, those calling for Mrs May to go are thereabouts without being actually there yet.

Elbowing his way into the squeeze was Boris Johnson, who made his resignation speech on Wednesday. He launched a stinging attack on Mrs May’s plans, saying she had invented “a fantastical, Heath Robinson customs arrangement”, and that she had condemned Britain to accepting every “jot and tittle…of costly EU regulation”.

This is a marvellous Biblical phrase for the tiniest amounts. A jot, or jotting, is a small note, and comes from the Greek word “iota”, which was for the smallest letter of the alphabet – an i.

A tittle is smaller still. A little tittle is the smallest point in writing or printing. The dots on a dice are properly called “tittles”. Accents over letters are “tittles”. The dot on top of the jot – the tiny round thing on top of the i – is really a “tittle”.

So if you were ever at school told to dot your eyes and cross your tees, you should have put your hand up and said: “To be correct, miss, we should tittle our eyes.”

Anyway, this is small talk. It’s just tittle-tattle.

For all of Mr Johnson’s strange phrases, he fell a smidgen short of launching his own leadership bid – perhaps a crumb of comfort, the tiniest morsel, for Mrs May.

Mr Johnson must know know that if his talk of tittles topples her, he will still inherit her tight mathematics. He will have a minority government; he may even have more minority government as his hardline Brexit may create more Tory rebels than Mrs May’s wobbly softish stance.

The only way the mathematics will change is if he dares to trigger an election – but that could let in Jeremy Corbyn.

Things are now so tight they are blurring round the edges: Labour rebels are supporting a Tory government. This could be politics realigning itself away from red and blue parties into camps that are pro and anti EU.

Today’s small margins are the result of an inconclusive election and a referendum that was close: 51.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent, which is only a little more than a jot or a tittle between friends.