THESE are tough times for the case for the Union. Look at the state of the UK and the attitudes of the UK Government, which seems to care not one iota about the worries of the population with Boris Johnson’s administration on permanent vacation in its dying days.

Step forward the A-Team. Arlene Foster and Ruth Davidson are being touted as the ideal pairing to take the argument for the Union to the nationalists and put Nicola Sturgeon on the defensive. One person with inside knowledge of this project said: “Arlene will hit the road with the likes of Ruth [Davidson] and show people what the Union means.”

While this drew lots of attention and mirth, a more serious and revealing take on the case for the Union was put forward by Lord David Frost in The Daily Telegraph. Frost was the Brexit negotiator in the Johnson administration and signed off the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement which included the Northern Ireland Protocol – which he now disparages, arguing that the UK should get tough with the EU.

Frost has turned his political antenna to telling Telegraph readers how the Tory party can best make the case for the Union, put the Scottish Government in its place, defeat the SNP and rout independence. Not exactly a modest prospectus.

To advance this, Frost makes an array of statements filled with errors, inaccuracies and misjudgements, all served with the self-confident arrogance of our present Tory masters.

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First, he states that the UK is not a union of “four nations” – a dramatic change in the language of partnership and co-operation pitched in 2014. Now Tory thinking is that such a stance is appeasement of the nationalist project and instead pro-Union opinion should emphasis the unity of the UK as one country, subsuming Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Secondly, Frost objects to the UK as a union of “four nations” because this implies they “have chosen to work together (but could equally choose differently).” This wilfully ignores the fact that the UK is a creation of different unions – core to which is the one between England and Scotland in 1707, which was a voluntary partnership between two equals.

Thirdly, he declares that the UK is “a unitary state”, not “a federation or confederation”, being unaware that other constitutional forms are available. Frost misses the opportunity to present the UK as a unique, hybrid entity which has evolved through the years – a union state as it known by political scientists – which has accommodated Scottish autonomy and distinctiveness, the re-emergence of Wales and power sharing in Northern Ireland.

Fourthly, Frost brings his lack of sensitivity to the fraught environment of Northern Ireland where he has already exacerbated tensions. He swings his weight behind Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak’s Belfast comments, which began: “Good afternoon my fellow Britons”, with Frost stating: “If you are a citizen of that unitary state, you are British.”

Frost who negotiated the Northern Ireland Protocol – which he is now waging war on and threatening the Good Friday Agreement – seems unaware that this agreement has at its centre provision to allow people in Northern Ireland to identify as British or Irish, and hold British and Irish citizenship.

And fifthly, his mythical British unitary state is a land without internal borders and jurisdictions. This is a political perspective which, when it got all hot under the collar about a border down the Irish Sea, forgot that since the beginning of Northern Ireland, 101 years ago this year, this is how the province has been governed and administrated.

First there was the Stormont Ulster Unionist one-party state for 50 years; in recent times no legal right to abortion and now, when this is meant to exist, no actual provision.

It should come as no surprise that Frost rages against the SNP being “able to control who came into the country during the pandemic on the basis of public health laws”.

He has no cognisance that Scotland did not actually do this, only imploring people not to travel, whereas the Welsh Labour administration actually did shut the Welsh-English border. Mere facts when you are building a case for something more important: the glorious Union.

If that were not enough, Frost has the audacity to propose that any future independence referendum could only come about when 75% of Scottish Parliament seats over a 10-year period are pro-independence. All a bit rich coming from a convert to being a Brexit hardliner, who had who made the case for Remain pre-2016), and who has swallowed completely the lies and deceptions of the referendum – all on a narrow 52:48 split.

Completely missing in all of the above is not just any sense that the UK is a partnership but that historically the language of the Union as one of “four nations” has been associated not just with Unionism, but Tory Unionism, which has previously wanted to qualify and limit the power of the central state and government.

Frost is not an outlier but representative of Tory thinking on the Union, including that of Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. They have little collective historical memory of the case for the Union and how Tory Unionism has made it.

As the historian Robert Saunders said at the weekend: “The idea of the UK as a partnership between nations, each with their own distinct character and identity, was historically a ‘Unionist’ idea. It was deployed against both the ‘Home Rule’ movements of the 19th century and the ‘centralising’ governments of the 20th.”

The Tory defence of the Union now openly disparages the long tradition of Tory Unionism and even undermines the entire logic of Unionism. It does not know or care for the language of Unionism of the likes of Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan, who championed Scottish autonomy and distinctiveness against the leviathan of Labour centralisation from the likes of Clement Attlee.

The reasons for this Tory posturing are not difficult to surmise. Devolution is now perceived as a one-way street which the SNP and independence have used to advance their cause, while also leaving Wales and Northern Ireland further down the exit route.

The only way Tory ultras can think of reversing this is to put the brake down hard on devolution and reverse gear, while emphasising that the UK is one indivisible country with one sovereign government and Parliament. Good luck selling the virtues of Westminster after a decade plus of Tory misrule and arrogance.

The Tory abandonment of Unionism is everywhere, the Thatcherite Bruges Group regularly stating “the UK is not a union” which means the boosterist language of the UK as “the greatest political union of human history” of 2014 becomes a little problematic. As does the name of the Tory Party: the Conservative and Unionist Party.

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The Tories have fallen into believing in a mythical idea of the UK which does not exist and never has, one which no previous Tory leader – Churchill, Macmillan, even Thatcher – advanced.

It has been made possible by the Brexit disruption which has caused convulsions in the Tory Party and wider politics. Senior Tories interpret all that democratic talk of “taking back control” as taking it back to Westminster and the executive and fetishising parliamentary sovereignty.

Brexit has accelerated a unitary-state take of Britain by the Tories and all around us we can see the consequences of the unitary-state British nationalism they have come to embody.

This is the future of their Union – high Toryism lecturing the restless natives of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to get in line and shut up, otherwise they will consider cutting us down in size. It is a recipe in the coming years for turbulence, disagreement and the last days of the Union.