The uncomfortable truth is that Arlene Foster’s bungling of the RHI scheme and attendant arrogance has cost unionism dearly.
Unionism has been brought to a sorry pass when there is no longer a unionist majority in Stormont.
This sobering reality should cause all unionists to reflect seriously on whether retaining Stormont is in the best interests of the Union, particularly as the ongoing price will be meeting the insatiable demands of Sinn Fein.
The fact that a nationalist/alliance axis – remembering Alliance’s record is of voting more often with nationalism than unionism – would now determine what laws pass through Stormont, raises the question of British rule being a better option.
When we add the fact that Sinn Fein is not in Stormont to make Northern Ireland work – quite the opposite – then, by clinging to a non-unionist Stormont are we not facilitating their agenda?
Now, is not a time to put salaries and party interests first, but rather the long term strategic interests of unionism must be paramount.
A unified unionist rejection of Stormont at any price would be a start to rebuilding unionist purpose and direction.
Returning to the essence of unionism – one nation, one parliament, one people might be no bad thing.
The other trap of strategic importance which must be avoided is allowing any weakening of Brexit for this part of the UK to become a pawn in any negotiations.
There must be nothing conceded which would make our leaving any less emphatic than any other part of the Kingdom.
This is a red line of national and constitutional importance.
It cannot be bartered.
Jim Allister, TUV leader, North Antrim