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Rabbit out of the hat takes us even closer to restoration of power-sharing in Northern Ireland

The government has produced a rabbit out of the hat, just as we teeter on the edge of a deal to restore Stormont.

Suddenly they've revealed the fruits of months of secret negotiations with the EU, to change the legal text governing the way trade operates in Northern Ireland.

After some speculation the UK was prepared to rewrite the rules unilaterally, it's emerged the EU not only knew, but were prepared to throw the UK government a bone, in order to assist Rishi Sunak in getting the Northern Ireland Assembly up and running.

Hardline unionists will no doubt say it does not deal with the fundamental, quite existential questions raised by the Windsor Framework likely to play out over the next 20 years.

Nevertheless, the EU has been prepared to extend the range of goods it is content to see going into Northern Ireland without checks.

The change means the EU has agreed to expand the "not at risk" category of stuff that can use the goods Green Lane which doesn't require checks.

Supporters are claiming this means Northern Ireland can properly take advantage of Free Trade Agreements struck by post-Brexit Britain.

Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris says it means a cut to food tariffs to goods like New Zealand Lamb and Australian beef.

We shall see.

Critically, politically, it has allowed Sir Jeffrey Donaldson to strike a note of vindication against critics who say the "deal" the DUP has agreed to is meaningless.

"This demonstrates that the naysayers are wrong. There will be legal changes," he trumpeted on social media.

This is further than many expected, and takes us even closer to a restoration of Stormont which feels closer than it has ever been so far.