LOOKING at the shambolic path towards the indicative Brexit votes that took place yesterday, anyone but an ardent “no-deal” advocate must thank the EU’s leaders for extending the Brexit deadline to April 12. And any Remain supporter should welcome European Council President Donald Tusk calling on the European Parliament to represent the UK’s Remain majority where the Commons has failed to.

But with “no deal” only briefly postponed, the UK’s political crisis is spiralling on, with continuing deep, damaging uncertainty.

If the Commons decides what sort of Brexit it wants, or if it wants Brexit at all, then the UK Government, regardless of who the Prime Minister is, must ask the EU’s leaders for another delay in barely a week and a half. Theresa May says she'll go when her deal passes but if the Commons chooses another route, will she even be the one who requests the extension? The EU27 will need time to consider the UK request, decide the length of any extension and set any accompanying political conditions. If the Commons can’t agree what a delay is for, or the EU says no, then no deal can’t be ruled out unless the Commons chooses the ultimate weapon of unilaterally revoking Article 50.

And if the Commons can’t agree what a delay is for, or the EU says no, then no deal can’t be ruled out unless the Commons chooses the ultimate weapon of unilaterally revoking Article 50.

So there’s no simple path out of this unpredictable political crisis. There’s no route back to the pre-referendum UK. A revocation of Article 50 would keep the UK in the EU on current conditions but would surely deepen political divisions. Both the Conservatives and Labour are badly split and rarely coherent. Both have played a major role in the damaging route into this deep political disarray.

That the failure of Mrs May’s Government over the past two-and-a-half years has not yet led to a general election is one more symptom of that crisis. And an election may yet come, perhaps soon, not least given her announcement, but then it would need the EU’s agreement to extend Article 50 to allow time to hold one without hitting a no-deal Brexit first. It’s a long way from taking back control.

And for all the talk of Westminster being a Remainer parliament, it certainly doesn’t look like one. The indicative votes process was more focused on finding a Brexit, perhaps a softer one, that can get a Commons majority than on looking again at whether, after almost three years of Brexit damage and chaos, the UK should simply remain.

The amendment to have another EU referendum was cautiously phrased to propose a “confirmatory” referendum on a Brexit deal. Even a bolder attempt to make revoking Article 50 the default, instead of a no-deal Brexit, didn’t offer the simple choice of revoking Article 50 and staying in the EU.

But politicians – President Tusk apart – seem stuck in their fears and mantras of the past 30 months, still trying to show that they will deliver some form of Brexit. Yet the UK public has moved on.

Polls have shown a Remain majority across the UK for the last 18 months or more – with just one or two narrow majorities for Leave in that time (the last in January, 2018 in the YouGov tracker poll). A comprehensive British Social Attitudes survey poll this week put Remain at 55 per cent to 35% Leave – a stunning 20% gap. It is this big shift that drives the one million on last Saturday’s people’s vote demonstration and the almost 6 million signing the ‘revoke Article 50’ petition.

A few politicians, of course, have given a stronger lead, demanding a People’s Vote and insisting that, in a democracy, it’s okay to change your mind. The Liberal Democrats have said that for a while; the SNP swung behind a People’s Vote six months ago. But both have still hedged their bets, offering to compromise on a wrongly-labelled soft Brexit – better called a “democratic deficit, rule-taker, unstable” Brexit.

And so the best option to hope for is still that we get to a delay to hold another referendum with Remain on the ballot paper (the revocation outcome looking unlikely for now). This would mean at least a nine-month extension of Article 50. And it would mean holding European Parliament elections – a great opportunity (ahead probably of any general election or second EU vote) to make the arguments for staying in the EU.

But a meaningful referendum also requires the Commons to put Remain on the ballot paper. It would need the Prime Minister’s unloved deal, if it's allowed back to the Commons at all, to be rejected again. It means Labour’s never-ending Brexit fudge does end and it backs Remain.

And it needs a UK government and a prime minister capable of negotiating a delay, perhaps a different political declaration too, and running a referendum campaign. And it needs the EU to agree a delay, and in doing so to accept that the politically riven, failing UK might stay in the EU after all.

It’s quite an agenda. And wherever UK politics stumbles to next – towards Brexit or the first steps away from it – we’re going to be talking Brexit and the EU for some time to come. And the UK’s political and constitutional crisis has a long way yet to go.

Kirsty Hughes is Director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations.