I was heartened to see Chris McEleny and Angus MacNeil pressing the case so forcefully today for an independence referendum this autumn. In the wake of the six-month Brexit extension, we now stand at another crossroads for the independence movement, and as was the case in the early summer of 2017 it's very much time for all of us to "speak now or forever hold your peace". Once Nicola Sturgeon makes her next statement on the way forward, the die will be cast once again. The worst case scenario is that she'll say "the expected clarity on Brexit has not arrived, so we'll have to wait yet another six months for clarity". That would surely be a dreadful error, because it would be doing exactly the same thing we correctly accuse Theresa May of - forever kicking the can down the road.
It's not hard to imagine the reasons Ms Sturgeon's most ultra-cautious advisers will be giving her for thinking that the idea of an indyref this year is a non-starter. They'll be saying that the endgame of Brexit is the wrong time to get bogged down in potential legal challenges to a Referendum Bill passed without a Section 30, and that in any case the whole initiative might be overtaken by events if a People's Vote is somehow brought about or if (more likely) a snap general election is called. But there's surely a middle path that can be followed that would leave us with a degree of flexibility while avoiding any deeply damaging sense of drift.
We now at least have partial clarity on Brexit - we have fairly strong indications that the extension to October is the last one of any substantial length that is likely to be granted. Which leaves us with the binary possibilities of Brexit this year, or complete revocation. And if Brexit does happen this year, it seems clear that it will be a relatively hard Brexit, because the Tory and Labour leaderships are united in their determination to leave the single market and end freedom of movement. The sole point of compromise might be on the customs union. The only way I could see a softer Brexit happening would be if Labour win a snap general election, and pro-EU backbenchers then use their leverage to pull Corbyn in a more moderate direction. So it would be perfectly possible for Ms Sturgeon to tentatively name a date for an indyref, perhaps early 2020, and make clear that will remain pencilled in unless there is a general election before Halloween, or unless Article 50 is revoked.