The Conservatives have always been happy to sell their allies down the river

In 1921, Sir Edward Carson, leader of the Irish unionists, uttered words anyone tempted to fall for the charms of English Tories should learn by heart. “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 Liberal Democrats have been saying much the same for five years. Working-class voters in red wall constituencies will be saying much the same in five years’ time. Today’s puppets, however, are Carson’s heirs in the Democratic Unionist party. Couldn’t they see what would happen? Did they not read the polls that showed English Tories would rather accept a united Ireland and independent Scotland than give up on Brexit? Boris Johnson’s wives, mistresses and colleagues all learned he would rat on them in the end. What made East Belfast Protestants think they would be different? Johnson duly ratted on them and dealt Ulster unionism a historic and perhaps terminal blow by partitioning the United Kingdom with a border in the Irish Sea.

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