Is the DUP about to do a 360 and assist checks in the Irish Sea as a part of a Brexit deal?
Political u-turns aren’t exceptional, in spite of everything.
But on this case, it appears a great way off.
Newspaper experiences that the DUP has privately shifted its pink traces on the backstop had been rapidly – and publicly – panned by senior occasion figures.
But is that the full story?
It’s essential to set out what the DUP has mentioned it should settle for, and the way its tone has modified in current days, inflicting a whiff of hope about a potential deal.
The occasion has at all times made defending the union its fundamental precedence, delivering Brexit second – and in the early levels of the negotiations insisted there could possibly be no deal that allowed any splits to develop between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
It had, nevertheless, mentioned it might settle for sure regulatory variations that did not harm commerce with Great Britain or undermine the Union.
The Northern Ireland Assembly would additionally have to have oversight of the course of.
While persevering with to oppose the backstop, the occasion has softened its language, saying it might be open to all-island “arrangements” on meals requirements and animal well being, which might partially take away the want for some checks at the land border.
That would imply Northern Ireland persevering with to observe some EU guidelines and accepting new checks on some items coming in from Great Britain
They have not set out exactly what the preparations might appear to be – do not count on them to both.
The Times story hinted the DUP might settle for EU guidelines in different areas too – which is maybe why the occasion has pushed again so exhausting.
If the DUP goes to to again something that even barely resembles NI solely accepting EU guidelines, they may want to have the ability to promote it.
Their concepts are being talked about by the prime minister as nicely.
Boris Johnson has discovered himself boxed in by Parliament, and by demanding the backstop disappear, he has few choices left in terms of getting a deal by his Halloween deadline.
So is a compromise of kinds coming down the tracks?
There have definitely been hotter phrases this week from some in Brussels, with Ireland’s EU commissioner Phil Hogan saying he believed there may be “movement on both sides”.
But we nonetheless do not know fairly how the touchdown zone for a last-minute deal will look.
Will the DUP and Boris Johnson, regardless of their protestations, go additional than all-island “arrangements” and transfer in direction of a Northern Ireland-specific answer?
What will the EU be ready to enroll to?
If Stormont has the energy to refuse to simply accept new EU laws on meals requirements that may fall wanting guaranteeing no exhausting border in the future.
Could Stormont have a consultative position on these EU points which might apply in Northern Ireland?
Bear in thoughts that may require Stormont to get again up and operating first, however there may be a idea that if a deal is reached, there could be a two-year transition interval which might enable some respiration house for devolution to be restored to ensure that Stormont to play its half.
There’s additionally the query of belief: The DUP say they do not imagine Boris Johnson will flip his again on them and signal as much as something they disagree with.
Others aren’t so certain.
Cynics would possibly say tales in the nationwide press that the DUP is softening are an try by somebody to bounce the occasion into accepting one thing else.
Right now, political techniques are being deployed on all sides.
No-one desires to be seen to budge an excessive amount of.
Despite what the key gamers will all say publicly, they know somebody should give extra, and settle for extra.
Behind the scenes, what’s being mentioned could possibly be very completely different – as stress is utilized for an settlement to take form.
Boris Johnson has mentioned he actually desires to depart the EU with a deal on 31 October.
It might now be a query of who can shout louder at him about what that deal ought to appear to be, in the seemingly brief time that is left.