It was worth coming back for this. To see Geoffrey Cox in his pomp, terrible on the rebound, is to witness the English bar at its fulminating best.
He began with a joke about the recent proceedings in the Supreme Court: “I took a close interest in the case.” That was followed by prolonged laughter.
He continued with an unreserved admission of defeat: “In legal terms the matter is settled.”
But then came the counter-attack, directed not against the judges – Cox declared repeatedly that no improper motives must be imputed to them – but against the Commons whose sovereignty has just been upheld by the Supreme Court.
“It should no longer sit,” Cox thundered. “It has no moral right to sit on these green benches.”
Uproar, which only made Cox hurl his condemnations with greater indignation: “They don’t like to hear it… This Parliament is a disgrace. They could vote No Confidence at any time but they’re too cowardly.”
They continue to stop the Government fulfilling the wishes of 17.4 million voters expressed in the referendum, so should have the courage to face their electors.
Cox warned them their spinelessness would prove unsustainable: “The time is coming when even these turkeys won’t be able to prevent Christmas.”
“This Parliament is as dead as dead can be,” he went on, for it will not allow the Government to govern, so the “morally correct thing to do is to seek to hold an election.”
But as Cox declared, “They haven’t got the guts!”
It is hard to remember when a big beast at the Dispatch Box has crashed and thundered and trampled on his opponents with such magnificent, uninhibited zest. Cox’s rich dark baritone voice filled the Chamber even when, in his wrath, he moved out of range of the microphone.
Nobody on the Opposition benches could stop the bombardment. Attempts to do so just made it come on heavier.
Dr Philip Lee, a recent convert from the Conservative to the Liberal Democrat benches, suggested the Attorney General should show “more humility and less levity”.
“Words fail me,” Cox gasped, but only for a moment or two. He pointed out that Lee was elected for one party and is sitting for another, referred to another MP who had taken “the chicken run, the rat run” and had said there should be a by-election, and concluded: “I think he should go on his knees to his own constituents begging their forgiveness for his betrayal.”
No hell fire preacher could have made himself clearer. The Attorney General is a man one would want with one in a tight spot. The turkeys on the Opposition benches gazed at him in stupefaction.
They really do want a general election. They just don’t want to vote for one. Cox spotted the inconsistency in those two statements, and used it to rout them.