If the British Empire 'was acquired in a fit of absence of mind' then this week Britain's global standing was squandered in a fit of absence of wit.

Neither Labour nor the Tories wanted to rule out military force against the Assad Regime yet somehow they combined forces to achieve just that on Thursday night.

As soon as Parliament had voted David Cameron said the public didn't want intervention; 'I get that'. But if his own MPs, even his own ministers, had all voted he might have been getting a different result.

The idea that Justine Greening and Mark Simmonds 'didn't hear' the Division Bell beggars belief (Commons authorities tested the bells on Friday and said they were working).

Others couldn't make it back for the rushed recall.

More MPs might have voted with the Government if the evidence had been stronger than the Joint Intelligence Committee's Assessment. Yet 24 hours later the White House did publish stronger evidence.

Downing Street tell me they had known about it all along but couldn't use it because it 'belonged' to the Americans.

They didn't know John Kerry would start waving it at the world on Friday. That might be Washington's mistake rather than London's, who knows, but it doesn't say much for competence within the 'Special Relationship'.

Labour didn't help the Goverment, that's not their job. But they didn't get what they wanted either and now look like the party who ruled out military action on a night when their own proposal potentially ruled it in.

In the end Parliament probably reflected the mood of a sceptical public much more than the thinking of Government or Opposition. But they seemed to do it by accident. And the Prime Minister seemed to accept that. However bad Syria gets.