Sam McBride: A constitutional crisis without precedent may be weeks away

Northern Ireland may stumble into a constitutional crisis of a kind never seen before. Rather than arguments about division or tribalism, the issue here will be constitutional justification, and at its heart will be a bewildered civil servant, an embattled minister, and a matter of utmost importance – the Northern Ireland Protocol. What is being revealed is crafted by the DUP, a political party so desperate to change public perception of how it has handled Brexit that its former leader has so far made himself public to divert attention from his impotence. ready to be humiliated. The voters facing that party in May are likely to ensure it grows rapidly, even if there is a risk that what it is doing could rebound on it.

His story first became public four days before Christmas, although it apparently took several weeks of strategy before reaching that point. At a time when most people were worrying about Kovid and his celebration plans, the Press Association reported that the Unionist Voices Policy Studies group of loyalist activist Jamie Bryson had launched legal action against DUP Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots.