How close did we come to a Christmas general election? Close. Too close for comfort, as far as Fine Gael is concerned.

While there was never any genuine expectation in Government that it would lose a vote of no confidence in Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, there was a perceptible degree of nervousness about it.

The numbers were so tight that nothing could be taken for granted. All angles had to be covered, people had to be locked in, there were last-minute meetings with wavering independents, and some Fine Gael TDs had to fly home.

Then, mid-evening, the Government made clear that if the vote went down it would mean a Christmas election. A date of 28 December was being speculated about around Leinster House. That focused some minds.

In the end, the motion was lost by 56 to 53 votes.

For context, the vote margin was ten last time there was a no-confidence motion in the same minister in September 2018.

So a Christmas election is off the table. But the tightness of the majority and how it has restricted in the past year has left the lingering question, how long can this Government go on?

A look at who voted with the Government tells us a lot about just how fragile this minority coalition is.

As well as the 47 Fine Gael TDs voting to support Minister Murphy, were the Independent Alliance four, unaligned independent Minister for Children Katherine Zappone and independent junior minister Sean Canney.

But the Government only really won with the help of three loosely aligned independents.

One is Noel Grealish. The Galway West TD was strongly criticised, including by many in Fine Gael, for recent Dáil questions about remittances sent to Nigeria. Questions the Minister for Finance said there was an "apparent ethnic basis to".

The other is Michael Lowry – someone whose potential relationship with this Government, remember, overshadowed part of Fine Gael's campaign in the 2016 general election.

Then there is Denis Naughten. The independent former minister resigned from Government in October 2018 after he said the Taoiseach did not have confidence in him. He did so without a Fine Gael minister in the chamber at the time.

Fine Gael also relied on the support of its own Dara Murphy in what might be the final vote of the Fine Gael TD, who is due to step down to take up another job in Europe.

These votes are not reliable enough for the Government to be able to bank on for future votes.

The other part of the jigsaw on which this Government depends is Fianna Fáil, which has to abstain in any no-confidence motions in order for the Government to survive.

As he spoke to the media, fresh from two by-election victories and with two new TDs by his side, Micheál Martin yesterday reiterated that Easter was a natural time for this Government to come to an end.

But if Boris Johnson wins the UK general election and takes the UK out of the EU by the end of January, his rationale for supporting this Government is gone.

And then there is the politics. Yesterday, Mr Martin and his party looked like they have less now to fear from a general election than they might have some months back.

With all the variables of Dáil numbers and the politics of Fianna Fáil, an orderly wind down looks less likely.