BREXIT talks on the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU are in what may be a pivotal week. No real progress this week points to a lack of sufficient advancement by the June EU summit which weakens the chances of an extension to the transition period.
In Ireland we have all been, understandably, taken with the implications of the coronavirus. Brexit has seemed a distant bad dream, which compared to the pandemic didn't even seem that bad.
Yet a bad trade deal or a no-deal crash-out at the end of this year could derail Ireland's hopes of a reasonable, albeit slow, economic recovery from the pandemic.
One of the hardest things to fathom from the lack of progress in the talks so far is where the real British position lies. Is this a game, before capitulating on a reasonable deal at the last minute? Is this a delaying tactic because Boris Johnson's government has already decided to leave without a deal at the end of the year? Will the British prime minister seek an extension at the last minute - which would have to happen before the end of June based on the necessary timeframes for EU member states?
As with the Brexit process itself, old certainties do not apply when trying to read the tea leaves of what will happen.
However, are Johnson and his Brexiteer government so unpredictable or are there some patterns to what they want that could point to the road ahead?
There is no evidence the British government will seek an extension.
Johnson may be a master of U-turns but he has placed so much political capital in seeing Brexit through that an extension seems to be the least likely at this stage.
That leaves a modest deal reached relatively late in the day or a no-deal crash-out.
One school of thought suggests the Tories are behaving as if they actually want to crash out.
It would deliver maximum post-Brexit freedom in how they run their economy in areas like labour, environmental regulation and state aid.
This thinking goes that an economic shock of a tariff regime with their biggest trading bloc partner couldn't really be any worse than the coronavirus shock and all of the necessary responses to that crisis.
The problem here is that a full crash-out no-deal Brexit would constitute an additional shock.
It would jeopardise further an economy that is reeling from the pandemic.
State subsidised job plans are currently supporting 10.7 million jobs (one-third of the workforce) in the UK and have already cost more than £22bn (€24.7bn). The Bank of England is forecasting a 25pc drop in GDP and it has expanded its £645bn quantitative easing bond-buying scheme.
The exchequer deficit is expected to hit around £300bn this year.
Failing to put in place any kind of future trade deal with the EU will compound each of these challenges.
The British pound has fallen to two-month lows against the euro and it may well fall further.
Cheaper sterling helps British exporters but the country has a massive trade deficit. It relies heavily on imports. Goods would simply become more expensive for British consumers.
Markets have already factored in a possible move towards negative interest rates by the Bank of England later this year or early next year to try to keep the economy stimulated. This in turn would add to currency woes.
Johnson must find a deal that gives him something to sell back to his party and his electorate as a win.
The British Conservatives even managed to sell Johnson's capitulation on the Northern Ireland protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement as a win.
It all comes down to the ability to convince enough people and themselves they have secured a victory on something. The wider context doesn't matter.
It is like saying Dominic Cummings did not break lockdown rules, when clearly he did. Just keep saying it.
Brexit was never driven by economics. It was about asserting illusive freedoms from European courts, immigration rules and British fishing waters.
As long as Johnson can find a trade deal formula in which he can sell to the British public a victory in fishing (0.16pc of the British economy), some enhanced immigration control and a level of freedom from European courts, he will do that deal.
It may come very late in the year but it will happen. This kind of scenario is not good for Ireland. A sparse trade deal will be bad for the British economy. Anything that is bad for them is bad for key Irish exporters, especially in food and tourism.
A bad trade deal can always be modified in the future. Johnson needs to sell some kind of win. Who better to sell a disaster as a victory than Cummings? Johnson is going to need him.