Although the headline moment tonight was the wafer-thin defeat of the Benn amendment, which may once again increase the chances of a No Deal outcome, I'd have thought equally significant is the exact numbers on Sarah Wollaston's amendment calling for a 'People's Vote' - 85 in favour, 334 against. Obviously the scale of the defeat was due to Labour whipping an abstention, and the argument is that Labour will swing behind a referendum at a more propitious moment. But the snag is that the 334 MPs who actively voted against the amendment today, plus the two tellers on the No side, represent 51.7% of the entire House of Commons. In other words, there appears to be a natural majority against a referendum regardless of whether Labour abstain or not.
It may be that a few Tory supporters of a referendum felt that they had been given 'permission' by the People's Vote campaign to vote against the amendment, and will change their vote next time around. But even if such MPs exist, they'll probably be offset by some Labour opponents of a referendum who felt able to follow the whip today, but who will vote against if they feel there is any danger of a referendum being approved. On the basis of today's numbers, I just can't see any way a People's Vote will be called - and that in turn removes any lingering doubt over whether Brexit will actually happen.