What is going on with getting a new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland?

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The short answer is – a lot.

But there is no deal announcement coming, at least not yet.

Don’t expect a deal to be announced on Tuesday.

And Wednesday is looking unlikely as well.

So where are we?

There had been talk that an announcement could come on Tuesday.

The basis of a deal, it’s understood, had been on the prime minister’s desk for over a week.

Here’s a sense of what we had gleaned is in it.

Preparations were being put together, including the arguments the government would make to its backbenchers and to businesses.

It is expected the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, may come to London for the big moment.

But hang on a minute.

Or maybe a bit longer.

Sorting out this appendix to the Brexit deal, which has proved rather painful for many, isn’t there yet.

Some officials on both sides of the Channel tell us there is a particular focus now on how EU law is applied to Northern Ireland.

What checks and balances might there be here?

Because, remember, this isn’t just about a new arrangement between the government and the EU.

There is another crucial question.

What does the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party make of it?

Northern Ireland’s DUP, who have long campaigned against the Protocol, pulled out of power-sharing government at Stormont over it just over a year ago.

And they are giving every indication that they are sceptical about what Westminster and Brussels might be working up.

A big part of that is that they haven’t yet seen the detail.

And they know their leverage comes from taking their time.

Both the DUP and some Conservative MPs think Rishi Sunak made a mistake to hurtle over to Belfast at the end of last week, unannounced, to try, as some saw it, to “bounce” the Democratic Unionists into agreement.

“He jumped the gun,” said one Tory MP, privately.

“There isn’t a deal to be done. It is back to the drawing board,” said another Conservative backbencher, who doesn’t like the sound of what they are hearing.

And this matters because the real prize here, eventually, is to tempt the DUP to return to power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

Few expect that to happen any time soon, even if they were to cautiously welcome, or at least not flatly reject, any new deal done between the UK and the EU.

“They’re not going to say ‘job’s a good’un’ and dash back in, we know that,” acknowledged one senior government figure.

But, if it happened in time, after details had been absorbed and laws changed, it would be a significant political achievement for the prime minister.

But how damaging would failure be for him?

Even if his deal didn’t satisfy the DUP, Mr Sunak could at least say he held out for a more robust arrangement, has improved things for people in Northern Ireland and re-set the relationship between the UK and EU.

This latter point, in itself, could prove useful ahead of a summit in Paris next month with French President Emmanuel Macron, where the topic of small boat crossings is likely to feature prominently and where the UK could do with a better relationship with France.

But equally – as Paul Goodman writes here on ConservativeHome – prompting a row with the DUP, and a sizeable chunk of his own party, is a big risk to take, when the possible prize might amount to a failure to achieve the main objective – restoring devolution to Northern Ireland.

So what is the EU saying?

Diplomats in Brussels say they aren’t panicking yet about whether the delay is a sign that Mr Sunak has a sudden case of the jitters.

There is sympathy that the PM has some tough politics to overcome.

There are also suspicions in Brussels that the last-minute haggling may be for show given the deal is, according to numerous sources, all but done.

“There has to be the perception that the UK’s doing something to assuage the DUP’s doubts,” said one EU diplomat.

Some still hope it can be sorted this week.

With Tuesday and Wednesday looking unlikely and Friday being the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, that leaves Thursday.

That also happens to be a day when the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has a big speech which may make that day tempting for ministers.

But others repeat they think this week is far too soon.

There is a reason Rishi Sunak is the fourth prime minister to wrestle with Brexit, Northern Ireland and the border.

No-one ever said sorting this out would be easy.