Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, says of all the options the EU is best prepared for a no-Brexit scenario. After two years of negotiations, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the same could be said of the UK.

Theresa May says she believes ‘with every fibre of her being’ that the course she is pursuing is the right one. But yesterday she seemed isolated in that hyperbolic view and given that she campaigned for ‘Remain’ her claim seems implausible at best.

Her chances of getting the deal through parliament in a vote expected before Christmas seem vanishingly small. Yesterday’s rush of resignations was accompanied by rumours sweeping Westminster that Mrs May’s opponents are on the verge of forcing a leadership contest.

That may not happen, without an obvious uniting rival candidate and with opponents fearing a victory could strengthen the prime minster’s position.

But with Labour, the SNP and the DUP all lining up in opposition to the draft withdrawal agreement, along with as many as 80 of Mrs May’s own MPs. it is hard to see where she goes from here. Time will tell whether the Prime Minister herself will survive to oversee Brexit in March next year. But while Mrs May might win a vote of confidence - albeit somewhat by default -she cannot win the vote that matters.

Both leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees Mogg and former minister Esther McVey yesterday described the draft deal as a threat to the union. The Scottish Government believes it is unfair and it would leave the country at a competitive disadvantage, compared with Northern Ireland.

If Mrs May cannot get her deal backed, what happens? It is not clear, but witha poll last night suggesting support for remaining in the EU is now running ahead of both Mrs May’s deal and No Deal, it is time to throw out the mantra that the referendum result must be respected at any cost. What Mr Tusk suggests may yet be an option.