FBC Manby Bowdler's Peter Wilding gives his thoughts on last night's vote...
Let's not underestimate this crisis. It is the worst defeat for a government since 1688. Then James II was hounded out of the country. Replaced by a foreign invading protestant King. That was the Glorious Revolution. This is patently less than glorious. The Government has been utterly humiliated.
In any normal times, the Prime Minister would resign. She would call a general election. Division, in Parliament and the country, would be extirpated by a cathartic vote. But Theresa May cannot do that. Or explore alternatives to her deal. Each and every one would force a fatal split in the governing Conservative Party for the first time since 1846. And her one constant duty, as a politician Tory-schooled and reared since girlhood, has been to avoid the destruction of the so-called natural party of government. For fear of the first openly socialist opposition since 1945. For fear of presiding over the collapse of her political home and legacy.
Meanwhile, the people and the businesses who employ them, watch with dismay. No-one can plan. Worse, no-one can predict. This is a revolt. But it is one without reason. Or any immediate solution. What happens next is a microscopic examination of Westminster's collective maturity. There will either be no deal or no Brexit or the middle ground - single market and customs union membership - namely the European Economic Area. Whatever occurs, the route to a way out is not down the road of May's deal.
What happens next depends on the Labour Party. Having helped inflict this disaster, a boil has been lanced. Now Labour MPs can fan out to support what will emerge as a compromise option. If it does.
Suddenly Parliament will wake up to a myriad of straws to grasp hold of. But each is poisonous. Why Norway when it leaves the UK powerless to vote or veto? Why a people's vote when it would plunder rather than unify? Why no deal when it would impoverish rather than revive? And still the clock ticks. And the parties fissure and fight.
The sad truth is this is a chronicle of a death foretold by the ignorance of a political establishment now fully exposed. And a public clueless for wont of leadership. Whatever results will be the best of a bad job.
If you're a business which is looking for expert advice, Peter Wilding is a corporate solicitor with FBC Manby Bowdler and a specialist in EU law. Peter can be on 07901 008220 and email@example.com.