White doves may yet be pulled from a conjurer’s top-hat. Pigs may fly over the Palace of Westminster. Steve Smith may be dismissed for a duck in both innings of the Fifth Test which begins at The Oval on Thursday. Boris Johnson may turn a cartwheel and make a proposal for a Brexit deal which the EU welcomes. Such a proposal would surely require reflection in Brussels and consultation with the member states of the EU. It must be doubtful whether this could be completed in the seven weeks between now and the 31st of October.

So, if it wasn’t quickly rejected but was seen as a basis for further negotiation, the EU itself might offer a further extension. This would at least spare Mr Johnson from the embarrassment of being seen to obey the legal requirement imposed on him by Parliament or whatever might be the consequences of refusing to do so. Nevertheless any extension would dismay many on the Tory benches and Johnson would be rash to take their continuing loyalty for granted. It still seems more likely that we shall leave the EU without a deal on the 31st of October when the present six months extension of our membership granted to Theresa May expires. Soon after that there will be a General Election as a result of which a Tory Government with a sufficient majority will, they hope, be returned.