The dramatic decline in Edwin Poots’ stock has taken even seasoned commentators by surprise.
ore surprising still is the manner in which the DUP has allowed the internal failings of the party to be played out so publicly.
Sammy Wilson going on the BBC’s Talkback on Thursday afternoon, refusing to say whether he had confidence in the new leader, was a devastating blow for the Lagan Valley MLA.
He has held the leadership of the party for just three tumultuous weeks.
He vowed when he took over from Arlene Foster that he would unite the party, which was split right down the middle.
The party now seem to be united – but only against his leadership.
When Secretary of State Brandon Lewis offered to legislate for Irish language, he gave the DUP a way out from the corner they had painted themselves into as they continually try to appease hard-line loyalism.
Instead of seizing the opportunity to put Irish language in the rear view mirror they have instead decided it is better to burn down their own house than to share power with their neighbours.
In this, the centenary year of the formation of Northern Ireland, unionism is in a bad place, however, much of that is of the DUP’s making.
Rather than futureproof the DUP and make the union an attractive prospect to younger voters, they have continually tried to drag the party and Northern Ireland backwards.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but Arlene Foster didn’t have to wait long on those who tried to publicly humiliate her having a spoonful of their own medicine.
While the party was having a very public meltdown, she casually tweeted she was enjoying lunch at a south Belfast restaurant.
There is likely to be a vote of no confidence in Edwin Poots’ leadership as the party officers meet to discuss his decision to nominate Paul Givan as First Minister against the wishes of the majority of his Assembly and Westminster team.
The question is will this be a case of ‘putting manners’ on the new leader going forward or will the DUP be foolish enough to risk a second leadership contest?
Even the most outspoken in the party must know a second change of leadership will be fatal in any future election – be that in the Autumn, or if this current mandate manages to limp along, in May of next year.
The DUP has tough choices to make.
Does it allow itself to slide into eventual obscurity through very public internal wrangling and failure to compromise in government, or does it stand by the current leader until at least next year and try and repair the damage of the last three weeks?
With all discipline lost and party members queuing up to publicly attack the leader, restoring order would be a mammoth task.
Sinn Fein are also holding crunch meetings with their membership this week, knowing an election could well be on the cards.
Right now they need to do very little apart from sit back and watch the DUP firefight.
But in the long term they must know that the powersharing government is damaged, possibly fatally, and if devolution collapses – what is the plan B?
We are at least five years away if not more from any border poll.
Trusting the current Tory administration to have the interests of the people of Northern Ireland at heart was a mistake made by the DUP in the Brexit negotiations.
Sinn Fein would be foolish to take the word of a government willing to breach previous commitments without so much as a second thought.
And would Northern Ireland emerging from a pandemic and with the worst consequences of Brexit yet to be felt really be better served under Tory direct rule?
We have been in political crisis before, but never have events changed so quickly.
What next really is a matter for the DUP – no longer a case of who leads the party but one of political survival.