I've heard suggestions in some quarters today that the implosion of both main London parties in the European election means that a general election has got further away, because our political masters will want to avoid the verdict of voters like the plague. I can see how seductive that logic is, but I've actually reached the opposite conclusion.
First of all, Labour will still want an election to take place. In a perverse way the timing is actually quite good for them, because the Tory vote has plummeted even further than the Labour vote, and that could lead to some kind of Labour victory by default in a first-past-the-post election.
Secondly, the usual reason for thinking that MPs from the governing party will not vote against their own side on a confidence motion may no longer apply. It would normally be career suicide, because the whip would be withdrawn and the MPs would not be able to stand as Conservatives in the next general election. But there is now a perfectly plausible scenario in which MPs could retain their seats even after losing the whip.
Let's suppose, against current expectations, a compromise candidate emerges as Tory leader. Someone who will refuse to take Britain out of the EU without a deal. The ERG would be up in arms and they would now have somewhere else to go. For any hardline Brexiteer who happens to represent a constituency that voted Leave, there is the option of defecting to the Brexit Party, and in the current climate they would have an excellent chance of retaining their seat under new colours. They could therefore bring down the government without paying a personal price.
Or let's suppose the opposite happens - Boris Johnson or Dominic Raab becomes PM and goes all-out for No Deal. In that event it would be the Tory Remainers who would be looking for an alternative - and they would have one as well. As long as they represent a constituency that voted Remain, they could defect to the Lib Dems, carry across any personal vote they may have built up, and have a decent chance of remaining an MP after bringing down the government. One thing is for sure - the Lib Dems' own reluctance to support a no confidence motion will evaporate after last night.
It may yet be that once the memories of the European election fade, the main parties will reestablish themselves and both the Brexit Party and the Lib Dems will slip down in the polls. But for as long as a major political realignment at the next election looks likely, there is a clear and plausible route by which we might be heading back to the polling stations sooner rather than later.