FREUD had a theory called projection. This named the tendency people have to project on to others the undesirable qualities they themselves have. It’s a psychiatric flaw that flourishes within some political parties.

Let’s take Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and the DUP. They are opposed to the Protocol because, they say, it erects a barrier to trade,  an Irish Sea border between NEI and Britain. To Sir Jeffrey and his party it’s self-evident that this is a bad thing. You simply can’t agree to a border within the UK, where different rules and laws obtain in one section. You can’t have a border dividing a country into two sections. Intolerable.

Has Sir Jeffrey ever wakened in the night with the mind-pounding thought that, thanks to unionism, Ireland has been suffering from just such a division for over a century now? The British, aided and abetted by unionism, created a border in Ireland where the six north-eastern counties were ruled by Belfast/Westminster and the remaining twenty-six counties by Irish people in Dublin. Intolerable.

Another complaint from Donaldson and the DUP is that the British Government must not agree terms with the EU without first having sought the assent of the unionist people and politicians of NEI. To do so would be unfair. Not nice. Riding roughshod over the concerns of those affected by such agreements.

If you were a psychiatrist you’d probably point out to Sir Jeffrey that when the Brexit vote was held in 2016,  56 per cent of people in NEI were in favour of staying in the EU; alas,  their wishes were ignored since most voters in the UK chose Brexit. Decisions were taken which ignored the majority wish in NEI. Unfair. Not nice. Riding roughshod over the concerns of those in NEI affected by this agreement.

If you’re given to histrionics, you might at this point start to rend your garments and call on your Maker to behold this appalling doublethink. But the way the DUP sees it, the wishes of the UK as a whole are what count. Except when it’s something they don’t like, in which case the wishes of the UK as a whole must wait for the assent of the DUP. 

All this is because the DUP fear that NEI will become constitutionally detached from the rest of the UK. The Good Friday Agreement tells them there will be no change unless a border poll votes for it. In recent weeks the Supreme Court of the UK told them the same thing. But were the DUP listening? If they were, they’ve managed to bury the judgement at the back of their brains. 

Meanwhile, emerging from the wings,  Boris Johnson declares he stands by unionist concerns. Yes, he created those concerns in the first place – the Protocol is his baby – but he now sees it as a good thing to shout very loud and take a hatchet to past agreements. The DUP are right – any border within the UK is unacceptable. Yes, he signed up to the Protocol, but he thinks that now creating merry hell over it might smooth his path back to Downing Street. His hero Churchill made a comeback, so why not he, Boris? And so he’s standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the DUPers.

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. In 1921, Edward Carson told the House of Commons: “What a fool I was. I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into power.”

The DUP may think everything depends on them and that they will bend the British Government to their will. In fact, the British are once again oiling the hinges on a fatal trap-door for unionists.

Edward Carson must be sighing in his grave.