British government strategy shift

James Murray Brown in the print version of the FT goes a little further than most correspondents and suggests that the broad outline of a deal may have been settled in a series of meetings at Downing Street with Sinn Fein and the SDLP:

“The UK government’s strategy has changed this year. Officials say the ‘period of reflection’ is over. They have put new emphasis on the May 1 dare for elections to the Northern Ireland assembly, shifting from the position that elections might have to be postponed – though this has not been ruled out.”

“Britain believes there is a six-week window of opportunity to get a deal done before the parties shift into election mode. ‘People tend to get frozen into position a couple of months out from an election’ a senior official said.”