As the BBC’s Northern Ireland Business Editor points out, Caine is the senior SpAd in the Northern Ireland Office, and has more experience of the province than its entire ministerial team combined. (Ian Duncan, the Under-Secretary of State, a.k.a Lord Duncan of Springbank, is steeped in the politics of Scotland, and also serves at the Scottish Office.)
Caine is a former SpAd to no fewer than four Conservative Northern Ireland Secretaries. He began under Peter Brooke, over a quarter of a century ago during the early 1990s, and went on to work for Patrick Mayhew…before returning to government after the New Labour era was over, during the period of the Coalition Government, as SpAd first to Owen Paterson and then to Theresa Villiers. Caine is the Conservative Party’s Mr Institutional Memory when it comes to Northern Ireland. He will also be the department’s, having been around for longer than its senior civil servants.
The tweet’s significant feature is not so much its content, about which Tories and Unionists will agree, but its author. That Caine should pronounce in this way says something about the state of the Brexit talks, something about the dominance of the Irish nationalist narrative on Northern Ireland which he is challenging…and perhaps something about the condition of the Government, since he feels it necessary to tweet at all.