THE advice for the DUP, as they continue to insist that the leadership of the Conservative Party is a matter for the Tories alone and that they have no position on it, is not to take up the game of poker any time soon. Their hand can be seen a mile away and it is clear to all and sundry that they are pantingly anxious for a Liz Truss victory.
The similarities with their brief and ill-starred love affair with Boris Johnson – when they cheered him to the rafters, swooned like teenagers on his every word and queued up to be pictured beside him – are startling. The world and its mother knew then that Johnson was a egocentric charlatan who lies as easily and naturally as he draws breath, yet the largest unionist party was willing to set aside the compelling and comprehensive evidence of his bad character and utter unreliability because he told them – as he has told everyone he has ever met – what they wanted to hear.
Liz Truss is no more a Leaver than Boris Johnson is. While he famously wrote two columns on the eve of the referendum, choosing the Leave one when it became apparent which way the Tory wind was blowing, so Truss was an enthusiastic Remainer, a former Liberal Democrat whose views on Europe in the days leading up to the referendum were in perfect sync with those she now shrilly denounces as Remoaners and losers. True, she did admit in a famous radio interview with Eddie Mair that she had been a keen Remainer, but that’s alright, she said, because she changed her mind in the right direction.
Her political career in recent years has been an increasingly desperate and obvious attempt to woo the controlling right wing of the party with ever more extreme rhetoric. She was viewed with deep suspicion by the swivel-eyed Europe-hating loons of the ERG – and why would she not be? A Remainer ex-Lib-Dem in the Tory Party is their worst nightmare and it is testament to the efficacy of her race to the bottom in relation to hot-button hard-right issues that she enjoys a significant lead in the leadership contest.
It is the case, however, that a Remainer ex-Lib-Dem can be a passionate advocate for the union, but any suggestion that Ms Truss would be a committed and careful guardian of the United Kingdom was blown out of the water this week with her extraordinary and incendiary attack on Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Ms Sturgeon, she said, is an “attention seeker” who she plans to “ignore”. Ms Truss was speaking to an audience of the Tory faithful, and they obediently laughed and cheered at the outburst, but it was an immensely telling moment. In order to garner short-term benefit with a small cohort of the small cohort which will decide the election, she said something that is of incalculable benefit to the SNP not only in its surge towards a second referendum, but in its ability to win it. In other words, her career comes before the union.
Just as it did with a certain other Tory, who also had certain other early admirers.