THERESA May took another mighty swipe at her can yesterday, kicking it – as the increasingly tired allusion has it – down the road again. Veteran Tory MP Kenneth Clarke, for his part, preferred a more vertiginous image when he told the Commons: “She seems to be giving us a date for a new cliff edge at the end of June.”

Her hand forced by vehement opponents in her own Cabinet of a no-deal Brexit, the Prime Minister set out a sequence of parliamentary votes that will themselves be voted on later today. The first concerns her withdrawal agreement. If that fails (again), there will follow a vote on a no-deal Brexit and, if that fails, MPs will vote to request an extension to delay withdrawal beyond March 29.

That will require the unanimous approval of the other 27 European members states. Yet they have not been been properly sounded out about it yet.

Ironically enough, Britain’s Brexit ball will then be firmly in Europe’s court, and the Catch 22 of yesterday’s climbdown is that Europe, while understanding it, will also have sensed weakness in it.

Mrs May herself wants neither delay nor no-deal. But what Mrs May wants and what Mrs May gets are increasingly divergent concepts.

Meanwhile, another widening gap opens up with the electorate, who see the debacle as a failure of “politics”. Brexit has become bigger than Britain, ballooning beyond the control of politicians and beyond normal party boundaries.

Indeed, despite the best efforts of the SNP at Westminster, the most effective opposition in terms of influence comes from within Mrs May’s own party.

Throw in the peculiar incongruity of looming European elections, note the almost laughable news yesterday that Britain does not have the approved pallets that non-members need to export to the EU and, with 30 days to go (watch this space), voters of many hues must wonder how we could have let ourselves get into such a mess.