WAS it a truce or an armistice? The cessation of hostilities in the battle of Brexit leaves shell-shocked MPs, and the country, with a chance to take stock. I take some slight satisfaction at seeing my New Year predictions coming right: I thought parliament would ultimately block a No Deal Brexit, that a third party would emerge and that Theresa May would have to open negotiations with Labour over a customs union and single market alignment.

What I didn't foresee is that Theresa May would still be in office after being forced to go to Brussels, twice, to beg for an extension to A50. Not only was this a national humiliation, and a breach of promise, it has cost nearly £1.5bn in No Deal preparations that had to be cancelled.

Whatever happened to “No Deal is Better than a Bad Deal”? Or the PM's insistence that holding European elections would be “utterly unacceptable”. Has a prime minister ever in history been so wrong so often and yet remained in office? I can't think of one. Theresa May's staying power is formidable and has become a political force in itself. They used to say that, after a nuclear war, the only ones left would be cockroaches and the indestructible chanteuse, Cher. But Theresa May will still be there too, lecturing insect life on the merits of her Withdrawal Agreement.

While she remains in office, nothing can really change. Indeed, the six month stay of execution on Brexit, awarded by the European Union last week, almost guarantees that nothing will change. The pressure is off. Negotiations with Labour over the customs union will surely stall. Brussels won't reopen the Withdrawal Agreement and neither will the DUP and Tory hard liners accept it. Theresa May is still blocking a Peoples Vote, about which Jeremy Corbyn is anyway distinctly cool.

The European Elections are going to be an unavoidable nightmare for both the big parties. The Tories will suffer mass defections from disgruntled No Dealers. Labour will likely be torn apart over its manifesto. The membership will want to include a Peoples Vote, which many Labour MPs, especially in northern English seats, will bitterly oppose.

The new independent party, Change UK, will try to syphon of disgruntled Labour and Tory Remain voters, and could do quite well. Six million peopled have signed the parliamentary petition calling for Article 50 to be Revoked and they will want to turn the European elections into a proxy referendum. But the Tiggers will be fighting for votes with the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

One consolation is that the Brexit right is split also. Under Nigel Farage, Ukip came out top in the 2014 EU elections and even won a seat in Scotland. On Friday, Mr Farage, launched his own rival political vehicle, the Brexit Party, following Ukip's lurch to the Tommy Robinson far right.

That's going to be confusing for Leavers because Ukip is an established political brand. But it was essentially the Nigel Farage party, so it seems likely that his new Brexit Party could succeed in being the natural destination for hard Brexiteers. By the same token, moderate Tories will not want to touch anything led by Nigel Farage and will probably not vote at all.

The one party which should do well hands down in the European elections is the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon will happily hoover up the independence and Remain votes. Labour has stalled badly in Scotland under Richard Leonard, and the Tories are indelibly tarnished by the behaviour of Theresa May and the Brexit right. Were the six Scottish MEPs to be elected on first past the post, the SNP might well have swept the board come May 23rd. But the European elections are conducted under a strict version of PR, so the SNP target will probably be to increase from two seats to three.

After the European Elections, Theresa May, assuming she is still there (and why wouldn't she be), will presumably try to put her deal to parliament for a fourth time, or seek to have the Withdrawal Deal ratified by other procedural means, given that the Speaker has blocked a fourth Meaningful Vote. This will almost certainly fail, and a war-torn parliament will collapse into the long summer recess with ill-disguised relief.

Nothing ever happens in Brussels over the Summer months, so discussions with Europe will stall, and in the autumn the EU will be pre-occupied with installing a new President of the European Council, replacing Donald Tusk, and a new President of the European Commission, replacing Jean Claude Juncker. This discontinuity means Brexit is in danger of falling into black hole of indecision. Europe is fed up with Britain's Brexit psychodrama, and just want us to go away.

Back in the UK, the run up to the latest Brexit deadline on Halloween, 31st October (the last deadline was on the eve of April Fools Day, which suggests Brussels is trolling us), will be by the UK party conferences. Both Labour and the Conservatives will be hopelessly divided. There will be harsh words in Labour between supporters of Mr Corbyn's managed Brexit and supporters of a Peoples Vote who constitute the majority of Labour activists, especially the younger ones.

The Tories will be even more divided at their party conference in October. The pro-Brexit representatives of the Tory grass roots will have their first opportunity to vent their collective frustration at the leadership, and Theresa May in particular. And if she still tries to promote her deal, which is loathed by the hard Brexit Tory membership, she will be roasted by representatives who are in a state of incipient rebellion.

The PM will almost certainly come out of the Tory conference having had to harden her Brexit negotiating position against the customs union compromise. Liam Fox the International Trade Secretary, has told the Tory backbench 1922 Committee that a customs union is incompatible with Brexit and that Britain would be “stuck in the worst of both worlds”.

With her options closed off, and with the Halloween deadline approaching, Theresa May will be left trying to run down the clock as before. Presumably parliament will again intervene to vote against hard Brexit. So the PM may have to go back to Brussels, cap in hand, on November 1st asking for another extension. Brussels will hum and haw about this, and no doubt Emanuel Macron and Angela Merkel will continue their bad-cop-good-cop routine, before stifling their giggles and giving the UK yet another stay of execution.

This time it might be permanent because the May government would surely fall, and there would be a general election. I know that I said as much last time, but there must be a limit to Theresa May's ability to struggle on in the face adversity. The DUP and the hard Brexiteers of the ERG are incorrigible.

She cannot get her Withdrawal Deal through parliament and she cannot strike a deal with Labour without destroying her own party. In Chess this is called a Zugzwang, when the king has to make a move, even though every option makes the situation worse. But in politics as in chess, you can't do nothing indefinitely.