Legally there may be nothing wrong with the idea that one person can hold the position of MP and sit in the Northern Ireland Assembly as well.
It’s the moral case where people will have a problem and anyone who disagrees needs to take a look at the bigger picture. It just doesn’t look right. And you can’t be in two places at once.
For a while in the 1980s, the North Down MP James Kilfedder was famously paid more than the Prime Minister when he was also Speaker of the Assembly.
And for years after Stormont returned post-1998, the vast majority of Northern Ireland’s 18 MPs also held seats in the Assembly. Some even had third roles as executive ministers.
There’s having your cake and eating it, then there’s coming back for another cake and eating that as well.
The end of political double- jobbing eventually made it into law in Northern Ireland in 2014 and was fully enacted by 2016.
This time round there wouldn’t be two salaries for two jobs, just the £81,000 as an MP, should anyone sit in both chambers.
But crucially, the proposal would remove the necessity of a by-election if an MP were to be elected to Stormont while retaining their seat at Westminster — but only for a limited time. This means DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson could stand for election to the Assembly and still hold on to his Westminster seat.
While the DUP’s opponents say this will fall nicely into the lap of the party leader, the issue the electorate may have is that double-jobbing was removed to allow those elected to concentrate on one job.
The DUP will not, of course, look a gift horse in the mouth. With the Alliance Party mounting a stronger than ever challenge in Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s Lagan Valley constituency he will be free to take both MLA and MP roles for the next two years.
Timing is everything. The accusations are already flying that the Northern Ireland Office is “going out of its way to prop up the DUP”.
Only when the list of Assembly candidates is revealed by the DUP will we see if they are taking the proposed change in the spirit it is intended, or if they see it as a tool to strengthen their hand at Stormont at a time when its grip appears to be slipping.
And there’s always a potential it could backfire with the voting public, who simply don’t want the same person doing two jobs at once on their behalf.
Instead of stabilising the NI Assembly as the move intends, it could further destabilise an already fragile landscape.