Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement has been voted down by 286 to 344 votes, a margin of 58 votes.

Late switches from leading Brexiteers, including Dominic Raab, who said in November that May’s Brexit deal would be “even worse” than remaining in the EU, and Jacob Rees-Mogg (“It’s not so much a vassal state anymore as a slave state”), were too late to swing enough MPs behind the government.

The DUP voted against the deal, bringing to a close the ERG-DUP alliance, and called for a long extension to Article 50. That illustrates that the DUP are happy with a soft Brexit (permanent customs union, perhaps) as long as the various constituent nations of the UK are kept in full alignment with each other.

So, what happens next? No-one really knows. The default legal position is that Britain leaves the EU on the 12th April with no deal. That should change. Donald Tusk tweeted that in light of the failure of the Withdrawal Agreement to win the confidence of MPs he has decided to call a European Council on April 10th.

Remember that if the Withdrawal Agreement had passed, the UK would have been able to secure an extension to May 22nd, the day for European elections are due to be held. It seems likely that a much longer delay is in the offing – perhaps a year, or even two years.

On Monday, parliament will hold the second round of indicative votes. MPs will narrow down the options until they can coalesce around a route forward – the two scenarios that gained the most votes on Wednesday were a customs union and a second referendum.

Again, I’ll hedge my bets but it seems most probable the Commons will coalesce around a pledge to join a customs union with the European Union. Absurdly, a future relationship based on a customs union with the EU would still have to follow a transition period underpinned by the Withdrawal Agreement, which the House has just chosen to reject at the third time of asking.

Theresa May would then have to return to Brussels to secure a non-binding commitment to a customs union. Speaker Bercow said yesterday that Theresa May could not bring back the Withdrawal Agreement to parliament for a fourth vote, so the scenario most likely to win the support of MPs on Monday would not be possible in this parliamentary session.

That makes a General Election the only logical next step – but the Tory party will not tolerate (would it?) Theresa May remaining leader for a snap poll.

In short, something has to give.