Northern Ireland’s five hundred or so Conservative members are not accustomed to being the centre of media attention these days. The province’s handful of Tory associations fielded just eight candidates in council elections this year and five of those came from the party’s traditional stronghold in North Down.

Nevertheless, it’s important enough to Conservatives to portray themselves as a UK-wide party that one of the leadership hustings was held yesterday at the Culloden Hotel, just outside Belfast. The future of the Irish border is still the chief obstacle to parliament voting for a Brexit deal, so the event attracted substantial interest from journalists both local and national.

In front of an Ulster audience, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson were scathing about the Northern Ireland backstop