HOLD on a bloody minute. Since when was Prime Minister’s Questions a platform for MPs to promote their forthcoming books? What will we see next? Someone laying out a market stall in their living room and hawking socks via Zoom?

A Conservative MP wants to remind everyone that the current government wasn’t elected last year for boring reasons – like, say, their perceived ability to handle a global crisis – but rather so that Brexit would get done. So what he wants to know is, will Brexit be getting done, and will all of his honourable friends be reading the new book he’s written about the workings of Westminster?

Boris Johnson of course promises we will be taking back full control come January, despite the fact that he clearly hasn’t managed to take control of a comb this morning in between rolling out of bed and entering the chamber.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson refuses to make Universal Credit pledge at PMQs

But on to the boring business about the handling of that global crisis, and specifically the Test & Trace cock-up that saw 16,000 test results go missing. Keir Starmer wants an explanation for how this happened, and why it took so long to spot.

The crucial thing, says Johnson, is that this doesn’t change the data on the virus spread. Silly us, not realising that Test & Trace is just about gathering data, and that it makes no difference to the virus spread whether people contacted through the system self-isolate or not. That’s definitely not going to send out any mixed messages at all.

“The Prime Minister ignores the warning signs, hurtles towards a car crash, then looks in the rear mirror and says ‘what’s all that about?’” says Starmer. “It’s quite literally government in hindsight.”

It’s a good line, but unfortunately Johnson has a point when he says that Labour have publicly endorsed current measures such the rule of six and the pub curfew, so can’t just turn around and critique them now they aren’t having the desired effect quickly enough. Starmer should have stuck to demanding to know whose idea it was to use an Excel spreadsheet to store test data.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson urged to follow Scotland with ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions

Ian Blackford is on firmer ground asking about the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit, which was introduced in April to help those struggling amid the pandemic. The plan was for this to be a temporary lifeline for a year, meaning 16 million people are facing a loss of income next spring. So, asked Blackford, will the Prime Minister commit to making the uplift permanent?

Of course he won’t – he’s a Tory, after all – but will he do Blackford the courtesy of saying so? Not a chance! Instead he prefers to witter on about the so-called “National Living Wage” and get up to his usual tricks by pointing out that the SNP were not keen on Universal Credit being introduced – as if to suggest their alternative proposal was to kick benefit claimants into the gutter.

Blackford isn’t about to let him away with that, repeating his question and adding statistics to back it up. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is warning that 700,000 risk being plunged into poverty if the uplift is removed, with a another half a million being pushed into deep poverty. So will he answer the question?

No, of course he won’t! Instead he reels off some statistics and adds: “If that doesn’t give him the answer he wants then he can ask again next week,” to titters from the back benches.

That really sums it all up, doesn’t it? Johnson’s opponents can ask whatever questions they like – indeed they can ask the same ones every week – but he’ll be damned if he’s going to actually answer them. Meanwhile, his chums find it a hoot that he's so utterly brazen about sticking two fingers up to the SNP's Westminster leader – and indeed to everyone who is anxious about whether they'll be employed, housed or even fed by next summer.

Perhaps Blackford should write a book about his experiences in the Commons (My Westminster Hell?), and take the opportunity each week to punt it. He could donate the royalties to his local food bank – at this rate they'll be needing the money.