There is nothing like a strict deadline to concentrate the mind.
As Brexit-day moves inexorably closer, there appears to be at least some discernible thawing among the icy crags of Tory back-bench rebellion, which could yet give Theresa May a chance - at one time thought impossible - to achieve an agreement by the due date.
This latest development has been welcomed by Dr Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary. And should it persist, the Prime Minister may yet be able to achieve that miracle on time, for which she has been striving relentlessly for months. What a triumph that would be.
But these painful negotiations have had their very ugly side. The threat by three Cabinet Ministers, Greg Clark, Amber Rudd, and David Gauke, to side with the rebels was a total disgrace. This disloyal trio should have been sacked on the spot.
But whatever happens at Westminster in the next three weeks, both the main political parties appear to be in danger of shedding more members to the new Independent Group of deserters.
The former Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is firmly of the opinion that that will happen, either because of Labour’s left-wing lurch, or the alleged nationalism in the Conservative Party.
Brexit has certainly turned the political landscape upside down.
And to quote the late Ronald Reagan: “You ain’t seen nothing yet...”
- A friend at Westminster whispered to me the other day that David Lammy, the vociferous Labour MP for Tottenham, is becoming something of a pain in the neck. His latest grouse is to say that they can do without any more “white saviours” in Africa. This is a swipe at Comic Relief, which each year donates thousands and thousands of pounds to alleviate suffering around the world. In particular, Mr Lammy had a go at TV’s Stacey Dooley for the “stereotyped” photograph of her holding an African child.
I can’t see what the colour of a person’s skin should have to do with the generosity of people anxious to help others less fortunate than themselves. Gratitude might have been more appropriate.