As I understand it, the SNP's strategy on an independence referendum since last summer's "reset" has been to focus all their energies on full-bloodedly and sincerely attempting to secure a soft Brexit for the whole UK, knowing that if they failed, they could then look the public in the eye and say with total honesty: "Every conceivable avenue for remaining in the single market and the customs union as part of the UK has now been exhausted. Independence is the only game in town from now on."
That means, paradoxically, that their honest endeavours could have been moving them a little further away from their primary political objective. Both last night and tonight, SNP MPs have taken part in knife-edge votes on the Trade Bill. If they had been on the winning side in those votes, a softer Brexit would have looked much more likely, and the case for an early independence referendum would have looked considerably less clear-cut. But courtesy of the very small and eccentric band of hard-core Labour Brexiteers, the most important votes were all lost. Theresa May's astonishing capitulation to the Rees-Mogg faction yesterday has been confirmed by the Commons, we are hurtling towards either a Hard Brexit or a no deal Brexit, and it looks increasingly hard to see how Nicola Sturgeon will be able to justify to herself (let alone to anyone else) a decision to let the current mandate for an independence referendum expire.
The London media may still be in a state of absolute denial about it, but with a decision about a referendum still promised by the autumn, the day of reckoning cannot be far off now.