Ever since Rishi Sunak announced his new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland, the DUP have been playing for time.
The Prime Minister increased the pressure on the DUP to get off the fence by scheduling a de facto vote on the Windsor Framework next Wednesday.
But Sir Jeffrey Donaldson can’t back the deal – and end the year-long boycott of Stormont over the Irish Sea border – until after local elections on May 18.
Supporting the new Windsor Framework could see the DUP lose seats to the virulently anti-Protocol Traditional Unionist Voice party, and ultimately cost Sir Jeffrey the leadership of his party.
He is struggling to contain divides between his politicians in Northern Ireland, who broadly favour a return to the Assembly, and those in Westminster, who do not.
How can he bridge those two camps without being accused of betrayal by one of the party’s several loose cannons?
Rejecting the deal outright is not an option at this stage.
The new Windsor Framework will be implemented in Northern Ireland with or without the DUP’s support.