THERESA May’s short tour of Europe ended with a bleary-eyed press conference in the early hours of Thursday morning. Facing a deadlock in parliament and with opposition to her Brexit deal hardening, the Prime Minister was forced to seek another extension to the exit day deadline. The extension to Article 50 granted to the UK of the 31st of October was not the short delay that May had hoped for.

Three years after the referendum, MPs now have even more time to decide the way ahead. Theresa May, ever a glutton for punishment, intends to bring her deal back to the Commons for a fourth time. In the intervening period, negotiations are ongoing between the government and the opposition to see whether they can come to an agreement.

For those who long for a return to what life was like before the Brexit drained any policy agenda from government this delay has brought a glimmer of hope. We are still in the EU and will be until either Parliament ratifies May’s deal or we crash out on October 31st with No Deal. There is time to choose a different path; to reverse this disastrous decision and return to politics as usual.

That is unlikely. Somewhere between the EU referendum and politicians from both sides repeating the line "nothing has changed’’ - everything did. And there is no going back.

Our political parties are divided. There are splits within splits and even the ERG hardliners – glued together through a shared ideology – are feeling the strain. This week, Daniel Kawczynski resigned from the sub-group. Those Tory MPs who say they will never vote for May’s deal – led enthusiastically by the media’s new golden-boy, Mark Francois – have nicknamed themselves The Spartans.

While Brexiteer government ministers scheme in Andrea Leadsom’s Pizza Club, the public anger over how Brexit is being handled is growing. MPs report a spike in abuse and death threats. Some say the stress is making them drink too much, and they all have panic alarms installed in their homes.

In Scotland we’ve seen what the result of a narrow constitutional referendum can do to shape and mould politics in its aftermath. For those who want independence for Scotland, the question remains unresolved. In the case of Brexit, it is the winning side who are frustrated by the delay in implementing what they voted for.

The mismanagement of Brexit means that even when it is resolved in the loosest sense – in that parliament approves a deal - the need to assign blame for the catastrophic handling of it will keep us its grip for years to come.

The fabled trade deals that will replicate those which we enjoy as part of the EU will be complicated and time-consuming to negotiate. The concessions which will have to be made to secure them will be seen by some Brexiteers as a betrayal or surrender.

Brexit has engulfed the UK and its leaders in mass delusion. Drunk from three years of wallowing in an echo-chamber, hard Brexiteers now believe their own hype. It goes far beyond the usual hopes and self-belief of a country into something far more pernicious.

They want to be out of the club, then complain of disrespect when our Prime Minister isn’t included in club discussions. They want all the benefits of the EU but don’t want to follow the rules or pay the membership fees. They want to scrap the Irish backstop and replace it with so-called alternative arrangements but complain of trickery and subterfuge when the EU asks them to specify what those arrangements are before they agree.

The Prime Minister’s so-called stoicism and resilience could also be described as intransigence. Her bewildering style of leadership – a combination of denial, repetition and delay – has rubbed off on our political classes.

This brashness has bled into our political discourse. Dividing lines are drawn which are rarely crossed. Changing your mind or seeing the grey between the black and white is viewed as capitulation. The norms of moderation of language, both inside parliament and out, have been warped beyond all recognition. Terms such as traitor which in usual times would be the preserve of fringe politicians and fringe elements of the public, have become normalised.

If any meaningful effort was going to be made to quell the tide of violent and irresponsible rhetoric, it would have happened shortly after the MP Jo Cox was murdered by a white nationalist during the EU referendum campaign. Instead, it has only worsened.

It’s difficult to see a route back to temperate and considered political speech, especially when the deployment of the extreme has been so successful in papering over gaps of logic and fact-based arguments.

This week, the much-hyped talks between the government and the opposition to try and break the impasse have been subject to fierce criticism by some Tory MPs who view the discussions as an act of betrayal. When even a tentative step towards compromise is demonised, it is difficult to see a way back to politics as normal.

There’s an understandable desire from some to return to the status quo; of a more predictable political time when current events gently plod along, rather than racing like a freight train that’s in danger of coming off the tracks.

It is argued that this could be brought about through a second EU referendum. While the route to that is unclear, the hope is that enough voters across the UK have changed their minds to secure a different result.

A People’s Vote or confirmatory referendum as it is now being dubbed, will not reverse the fundamental shift in politics that we are living through. In both Change UK and Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party, we have seen the formation of two new political parties whose only policies are intrinsically linked to Brexit.

Those who are in the business of making predictions have had a torrid time over the last few months. It is comforting to believe that Theresa May has an as-yet undisclosed Brexit strategy that we will soon become privy to.

In truth, May isn’t in control in any meaningful way. Boxed in by her own red lines and warring party, she is a Prime Minister adrift and at the mercy of the currents. Her only notable success is somehow managing to remain in office despite her demonstrable and multiple failures.

As MPs head off for Easter recess, they have time to reflect and refocus for the difficult months ahead. Both them and us may have been gifted a brief respite from the Brexit madness, but there’s little hope of a permanent return to political normality as we have known it.