“WELL, here’s another nice mess you’ve got me into.” was the catchphrase of a great Hollywood comedy golden oldie “Laurel and Hardy”. And it might also be what Boris Johnson has been muttering to his chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, the man who masterminded the Brexit Leave campaign.

Never has a Prime Minister’s term of office started so disastrously, with six straight defeats in the Commons, resignations and sackings of his fellow MPs, negative court judgments, revelations of potential chaos after no deal and the failure to secure the general election he so desperately wants, or at least says he wants.

But could it all be, to steal a quote from another comedy classic, Matthew Cummings’ “cunning plan”?

Probably the most startling development in the string of apparent Johnson mishaps was the sacking of 21 of his own MPs, including two former chancellors of the exchequer and the grandson of Winston Churchill, Mid Sussex MP, Sir Nicholas Soames.

It looked like a complete disaster as the Prime Minister’s majority slumped from one to minus 20.

But whether by accident or design, it could be that the law of unintended consequences might be kicking in.

This is because before Mr Johnson, and before him Mrs May, were at the mercy of the hardline DUP.

This meant that the issue of the backstop, the arrangement to avoid reinstating a hard border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, remains the main roadblock on the road to securing a withdrawal deal.

But following the sacking of the 21, the DUP, at a stroke, have lost all, or almost all, their influence because Mr Johnson is no longer dependent on them to stay in power, as even with their votes he still cannot command a majority.

This has meant that he, and his negotiators, are now free to talk to the EU, and most importantly Dublin, about some sort of compromise that would both satisfy the EU’s concern to protect the Single Market whilst at the same time not forcing Northern Ireland into a customs union with the EU (with the rest of the UK outside).

In the last day or two , the mood music from the Government, the DUP and the EU has markedly changed, with the prospects of Johnson securing some sort of deal being talked up (though not necessarily before the October 31 deadline).

So here goes my kamikaze dive into that notoriously rock-strewn predictions pool where most predictions (or at least those concerning Brexit) crash and die. I believe that Mr Johnson will secure something looking like a deal at the EU summit next month, though it will take many weeks to work out the details (and the words backstop will not appear) so he will ask, and get, an extension to the end of the year.

The new deal will in essence be the Mrs May’s deal but with a backstop operating, not between the Republic and Northern Ireland, but in the Irish Sea between the island of Ireland and Great Britain. The DUP, and their hard right Tory allies, will say they are not happy but they will see it as better than no deal (perhaps having seen the most recent polls which suggest that if there was a no deal crash-out the majority of people in Northern Ireland would favour leaving the UK and becoming part of the Republic).

If enough of the sacked 21 Tories are welcomed back into the Conservative party and, along with the DUP and hardline Brexiteers, plus about 20 Labour members from Leave constituencies, vote for the new deal then it could become law in 2020. Because of these potential developments Mr Johnson will hold off from calling for an election before Brexit has been delivered. Once it has been the Brexit Party’s support would crumble as fast as did Ukip’s, Labour’s vote will split three ways between hardline Labour Leavers (who will vote Tory or possibly Brexit), hardline Remainers (who will vote Liberal Democrat or Green) and the remainder who will vote Labour either because of, or despite, Jeremy Corbyn. The result would be Mr Johnson returning to Downing Street but this time with a thumping majority.

Then again the Supreme Court might rule that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful and that, by implication, Mr Johnson had lied to the Queen, the result would be that the Prime Minister would be forced to resign and face contempt of court proceedings. If this were to happen it would mean that my predictions, as those of almost everyone else’s who’s been foolish enough to try and foresee how the Brexit post might unravel, will just be so many words. On the other hand …..

Ivor Gaber is Professor of Political Journalism at the University of Sussex and a former Westminster-based political correspondent.