Apparently British Prime Minister Brown "will call an NI Assembly election rather than just suspending the institutions if the executive falls over failure to agree a policing deal" – he said this in a phone call to UUP leader Reg Empey yesterday.
New elections were always a possibility but this is the first clear commitment to this course of action by the British government.
The immediate questions, of course, are: why did he say this, and why did was it made public?
The obvious answer to both questions is the same: to increase the pressure on the DUP.
An Assembly election at this point could easily break the DUP, and see them reduced in stature and in seats. And, let's not forget, the bookies think that Sinn Féin would win more seats and thus have first grabs at the First Ministership.
Many DUP MLAs must view an Assembly election with trepidation. They risk losing their seats to either the TUV to their right, or the UUP to their left. Lost seats, lost power, lost income, lost employment …
And a bad Assembly election in April could set the scene for a DUP disaster on May 6, so it isn't just MLAs who are worried – MPs can also feel the cold wind.
Another day passes, and the pressure just keeps mounting on the DUP. They have been progressively isolated and outmanoeuvred by every other player. Their image as astute strategists is gone, and the old negative image of the DUP is re-asserting itself. The party's inability to cope with equality and power-sharing is causing it serious damage in the eyes of the watching world, while Sinn Féin's apparently infinite patience is causing many observers to see them as the responsible party. Which party is really more strategically astute?