IT would appear that there is a new spirit of unionism at large in these islands and that its public face is Liz Truss.

That may delight those who are the firmest advocates of that Union, including many Tories who are about to elect Liz Truss as their leader and hence our Prime Minister.

It may upset those who believe in the devolution of power in the UK, most notably to Scotland but also to Wales and Northern Ireland.

Ostensibly, it may alarm Nationalists – or rather, perhaps, it may stimulate them to feel that their cause has a new rival to combat.

Ms Truss says she is a “child of the Union”. Said child appears, on the face of it, to have little time for the devolved settlement and even less for Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s elected First Minister.

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Now, in practice, if and when she becomes Prime Minister, Liz Truss will have to deal with devolution. And with Ms Sturgeon.

Her civil servants in Downing Street and throughout Whitehall will have to work on a daily basis with their counterparts in St Andrew’s House.

That is the reality. And Ms Truss conceded as much in backing down a bit, as some supporters showed signs of fretting, although she refused to apologise.

Her initial comments emerged when speaking at a hustings in Exeter.

Most notice was paid to her description of Nicola Sturgeon as an “attention seeker”. The context, of course, was the First Minister’s demand for a second referendum on independence.

The self-styled child of the Union drew enthusiastic applause when she said that the best thing to do with Scotland’s First Minister was to “ignore her.”

Cue Nationalist outrage, authentic or contrived.

Certainly, such language is reminiscent of a colonial governor dismissing a subordinate satrap. At root, there is a touch of old-fashioned imperialism here.

But let us remember that Liz Truss is in a party election contest. She needs votes from committed Unionists.

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She calculates that anxious Conservatives are looking for a little certainty. Nothing stirs the Tory blood more than an appeal to defend the Union.

Perhaps she would be more emollient in office, as she indicated later. Yet consider her answer as to whether she would sanction indyref2.

She replied “no, no, no”.

Recognise the reference? That is precisely the form of words used by Margaret Thatcher in 1990 when she rejected plans for further European integration, advanced by Jacques Delors, then president of the European Commission.

So, in Exeter, Ms Truss was striking a note in harmony with fundamental Tory Unionism – and doing so, quite deliberately, in the voice of their heroine, Margaret Thatcher.

Me? I was rather more struck by the comments which followed her belittling of Nicola Sturgeon.

She informed her audience: “What we need to do is show the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales what we’re delivering for them and making sure that all of our government policies apply right across the United Kingdom.”

Now, you could argue that, on the face of it, this is fairly familiar stuff. It is Boris Johnson and “levelling up”.

It is Alister Jack and the Scotland Office seeking to place a UK badge on Scottish public projects which would otherwise be processed by Holyrood, partly through funds supplied via the block grant.

But this goes further, with that phrase about about “all of our government policies” applying throughout these islands.

That runs directly counter to the spirit and the practice of devolved self-government. It is Westminster and Whitehall rule.

Once more, it is possible to assert that we should not read too much into a single hustings comment by Ms Truss.

After all, her campaign is scarcely renowned for linguistic and policy consistency.

This week, she announced a bold plan for regional civil service pay settlements, only to shelve it hours later after it became evident that its critics included senior Conservatives.

But rival parties insist that the remarks from Ms Truss are not just throwaway electioneering. They say there is principle and precedent here.

Scottish Ministers point to the repatriation of EU powers, retained by Westminster rather than being dispersed to the devolved authorities.

Comparable criticism on this point and others has come from Mark Drakeford, the Labour First Minister of Wales; a Tory opponent, certainly, but no nationalist.

There is more still. The attack on Nicola Sturgeon was endorsed by one of the more enthusiastic members of Team Truss.

Jacob Rees-Mogg said Scotland’s First Minister was “always moaning”.

Indeed, Mr Rees-Mogg appears to have relatively little regard for leading Scottish politicians. He previously dismissed Douglas Ross, the leader of his own party in Scotland, as a “lightweight”.

Last year, Mr Rees-Mogg was accused by opponents of undermining an element of the Northern Ireland peace process when he disputed the view that the UK Government had “no selfish strategic or economic interest” in Northern Ireland.

That declaration, made in 1990 by the then Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Brooke, was aimed at depicting UK Ministers as neutral and dispassionate in a bitter conflict.

By contrast, Mr Rees-Mogg said the UK Government should “have an interest in keeping our whole country together as a United Kingdom”.

Is it too much of a stretch to infer that his candidate for Tory leader, Liz Truss, is now applying a comparable stance to Scotland?

To be clear, the Truss position is in keeping with older, established Conservative doctrine. It will resonate with those Scots Tories who never really reconciled themselves to devolution.

This week, the SNP argued in a paper to the Supreme Court that Scotland was “a nation with a distinct and discrete history, culture and legal background”. Alternative perspectives did not “withstand even the lightest scrutiny”.

Perhaps, though, the new generation of Conservatives, reflecting their history, are inclined to pay more attention to a rather older document.

To the articles of Union which decreed “that the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England shall upon the first day of May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain.”