The optics on the double-jobbing saga are atrocious for the DUP.
For the rule-book to be rewritten to enable one MP to hold two positions is hardly a wise look with an election looming. And the Tories didn’t even manage to pull off the manoeuvre.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson went out and took the flak for an amendment which was withdrawn in the end.
He expended political capital for absolutely nothing.
This had disaster written on it from the get-go but the DUP failed to recognise that.
Seven parties from right across the political spectrum came out strongly against reintroducing double-jobbing.
Having Jim Allister to Michelle O’Neill — and everybody else in between — opposed to you should be a wake-up call.
But still the DUP leadership ploughed on.
Down a level, a fair few MLAs weren’t impressed.
They thought it was folly from the start with some claiming it conveyed a massive sense of entitlement on Sir Jeffrey’s part.
The DUP leader has publicly pledged to stand in Lagan Valley in May’s Assembly election.
It would surely be impossible for him to now backtrack on that position.
Former party leader Edwin Poots and First Minister Paul Givan have both previously indicated they will run in the constituency.
If all three stand, it will be a mouth-watering contest as the party is likely to win only two seats.
Judging by previous elections, Poots would appear to be the most vulnerable.
The question also arises as to who is selected to replace Donaldson at Westminster.
It’s early days, but Givan would be the obvious choice.
His brief, disastrous reign as DUP leader has hardly enhanced Poots’ reputation with voters.
By contrast, Givan now enjoys a higher profile than before and he hasn’t so far put a foot wrong as First Minister.
Unless he drops a clanger between now and the election, he would seem to be the candidate best-placed to take on Alliance’s Sorcha Eastwood and the Ulster Unionists’ Robbie Butler.
Eastwood reduced Donaldson’s 19,000 strong majority to 6,000 in 2019 but the DUP would still be favourite to retain the seat.
Leaving Westminster will be a wrench for Donaldson. He has been Lagan Valley MP for a quarter of a century and is widely liked and respected in Parliament. But the DUP leadership’s arguments on double-jobbing just didn’t add up.
It was claimed Sir Jeffrey needed to be in London because of Brexit talks.
Yet Arlene Foster wasn’t an MP. She regularly flew over for discussions with the Prime Minister and others.
Nobody in the party ever once suggested that the fact she was based in Stormont was a disadvantage in negotiations.
Some DUP insiders have maintained that double-jobbing is much more an issue for other parties and the media than it is for their own electoral base.
They say that their representatives haven’t been inundated with angry emails or phone calls.
Other unionist sources also assert that the reaction on social media from unionist grassroots has been negligible.
A LucidTalk opinion poll for Saturday’s Belfast Telegraph will throw light on how voters view double-jobbing.
Opposition to the Tory proposal grew at Westminster because in Northern Ireland only the DUP supported it.
There have been persistent rumours that Colum Eastwood is keen to return to Stormont.
The DUP prayed that the SDLP leader would sign up to the rule change and give their man cover.
Those hopes were unfulfilled.
Eastwood on Wednesday night welcomed the “humiliating defeat for Brandon Lewis and the DUP”.
He said the public had no appetite for “politicians squatting on seats to protect their own political position” and his party would “remain vigilant against any future attempt to introduce these proposals”.
On double-jobbing, it was the DUP versus everybody else — that’s a far from ideal position for any party seeking transfers in May’s election.