It doesn’t matter who succeeds Boris Johnson as Tory boss, if that person wants to maintain the peace process in Northern Ireland, let alone the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, they will have to save the DUP from itself.
But surely, you might ask, the solution to getting the DUP to kick-start the power-sharing Executive at Stormont is to get the DUP to nominate an Assembly Speaker by getting rid of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
On paper, the solution is simple - get the so-called Protocol Bill through both the Commons and House of Lords and onto the statute books so that the next Conservative Prime Minister can politically neuter the Protocol, thereby allowing the DUP to march back into Parliament Buildings.
In reality, the problem is that the DUP is now constantly looking over its shoulder - and not necessarily at the increasing support for Sinn Fein south of the Irish border.
The problems facing the current DUP leadership are both internal and external, but they all involve Unionism and Loyalism, not the republican community.
The summer recess at both Stormont and Westminster will allow the DUP to ride out the political heatwave which has now engulfed the party.
While the DUP leadership has dropped some subtle hints using the traditional Twelfth demonstrations that the Protocol Bill was pushing things in the right direction.
Problem number one - the Protestant Loyal Orders, especially the Orange - are taking a much harder line on the Protocol. Essentially, for the Orders, the Protocol must be confined to the dustbin of history.
For generations, the Loyal Orders - Orange, Black, Apprentice Boys, and Independent Orange - were the cement which helped the leadership of Unionism communicate effectively with the Protestant grassroots. But what happens if that grassroots is making demands on the Protocol which the DUP cannot deliver?
As a political force, Orangeism 2022 is starting to resemble Orangeism 1998. The pro-Good Friday Agreement Ulster Unionist Party found itself being harangued at demonstration fields by militants from the hardline Spirit of Drumcree pressure group within the Order, whilst politically the anti-Agreement faction within the UUP rallied around the Union First pressure group.
I recall in July 1998, the then UUP Minister Sam Foster from Fermanagh and South Tyrone being loudly heckled at the Twelfth demonstration field during the platform proceedings at Irvinestown.
Next up to speak to give the religious sermon was my late dad, Rev Dr Robert Coulter MBE, then a North Antrim UUP MLA and senior Orange Chaplain. Dad, like Sam, was also pro-Agreement, but thankfully the Spirit of Drumcree supporters remained silent allowing dad to preach his Gospel message uninterrupted.
Okay, at the 2022 demonstration fields, there was no haranguing of DUP politicians by militant Orange members. But East Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson was earlier this year heckled at an anti-Protocol rally in Markethill, and at Lurgan, there was a poster of current UUP boss Doug Beattie with a noose around his neck.
Given the current heated debate about the burning of effigies on Eleventh Night bonfires, could a situation arise that if the DUP was to walk back into the Assembly with some semblance of the Protocol in place, effigies of DUP politicians could adorn Eleventh Night bonfires in 2023?
After all, there was plenty of burning of effigies of former Tory PM Maggie Thatcher in the mid 1980s by Unionists furious at her signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement of November 1985.
It’s one thing to burn an effigy of the long since dead traitor Lundy as part of the Siege of Londonderry commemorations; it’s another thing to burn the effigy of a living politician, or even their election posters.
The DUP must also be looking over its shoulder, too, at the some 65,000 Unionist voters who opted for the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice party in May’s Assembly poll.
Okay, it resulted in only one MLA, but with local council elections looming next year and if the TUV holds its support, could we see a couple of dozen TUV councillors returned across Northern Ireland, and possibly holding the balance of power, not just within Unionism, but within some councils?
Then there’s the internal challenges. While many pundits may claim DUP2022 is a different political beast from that of its founding father, the late Rev Ian Paisley in 1971, there is still a significant Paisleyite lobby within the party.
For years, the fundamentalist denomination which Paisley founded in 1951 - the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster - was perceived to be the DUP at prayer.
Rumours abound within Protestantism about certain churches now becoming the TUV at prayer. Then again, the question can be posed - how many of those 65,000 Assembly voters are actual church attenders?
Is the TUV merely copying the DUP - which in the past used pressure groups, such as the Caleb Foundation and Evangelical Protestant Society, to infiltrate some of the smaller Protestant denominations?
Indeed, the modern day Pentecostal movement could be considered as ‘ripe for the plucking’ for TUV activists seeking to maintain the party’s power base within Unionism.
Rather than slam the DUP for not nominating a Speaker and thereby kick-starting devolved government in Northern Ireland, perhaps those outside the DUP in moderate Unionism, Alliance, nationalism and republicanism need to address the issue of what political spades they need to acquire to dig the DUP out of the pit into which it has seemingly fallen over the Protocol.
Follow Dr John Coulter on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter
Listen to commentator Dr John Coulter’s programme, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 10.15 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM. Listen online.