Back in the reign of James I, an MP was found to be in contempt of Parliament. His punishment was to be paraded through the streets of London, facing backwards on a saddle-less horse.

When he arrived at his destination, he was, I gather, branded with a “K” on his forehead, fined £5,000 (a staggering amount of money) and imprisoned for life.

They don’t do it like that these days, which is just as well.

The government lost a motion of contempt of Parliament and has now been forced to publish the legal advice given by the Attorney General on the withdrawal agreement with the EU. This is to be published this week and gives the legal detail of what the government has been advised.

I’m not sure it will add to the debate in any significant way, but I may be wrong. But the government has started losing votes, and the second vote it lost was more significant.

We have started five days of debate on the EU withdrawal agreement and at the end of it there is a simple, meaningful vote: does parliament accept or reject the deal?

The vote the government has lost is quite a technical one, but is important.

If the government loses the meaningful vote, then there is a second, simple procedural vote.

That vote was to be one that simply reaffirmed that Parliament is happy with exiting the EU without a deal.

However, the second vote has allowed that second, simple vote to be amendable. So what does that mean?

In the event of the government losing the first vote, the second vote can be amended to put forward a suggestion that Parliament accepts that the deal has been rejected but commands the government to explore an alternative.

These alternatives include a second referendum, a hard Brexit, membership of the EEA (the Norway model), no Brexit at all, or to seek changes on the existing deal.

Sounds reasonable until one realises that, looking at the numbers, none of these options are likely to command a majority. Where does this leave us? No one has a clue. Literally, no-one has any idea what is likely to happen.

As the debate progresses, we will probably learn a bit more and it may be that opinion coalesces around a solution. But right now, it all looks utterly ridiculous. This is no way to govern a country. But please do keep writing in with your thoughts.