Gordon Brown has played his hand in Northern Ireland warning the Democratic Unionist Party that he will call a snap election if they refuse to reach agreement with Sinn Fein on future governance.

(Click here for link to Guardian piece)

The Brown move is a calculated political decision which will confront the DUP with the harsh reality that, if they cannot do the deal with Sinn Fein, a deeply divided party will face into elections where they may suffer heavy defeats from moderate unionists in the Ulster Unionist Party and extreme unionists in the Traditional Unionist Voice Party.

Brown's people have also made it clear to the DUP that the $1.2 billion package which was open to them and Sinn Fein for the transfer of policing powers will no longer be available if they do not reach agreement.

The Brown initiative was revealed by the Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey who also stated there would be no unionist pact prior to an election.

Brown is hoping that the DUP will realize the electoral jeopardy they are in as public opinion is sharply against them on their failure to agree an outcome with Sinn Fein.

Robinson thought he had a deal with Sinn Fein but discovered that 40 per cent of his parliamentary party opposed him when he presented it to them.

The British pressure seems certain to have an impact, if anything can. The next few days will surely bring a resolution one way or the other to the impasse that has lasted for nine days now while the parties try to agree a framework.