“I have the confidence to do things my own way,” Boris Johnson’s hair declared.
It was this week messier than ever: unbrushed, unkempt, uncut, as if the Prime Minister had washed it and fallen asleep with it in a wet and tangled mess, so that when he awoke it would stick out in every direction.
Sir Keir Starmer was left to uphold respectability. He invited Johnson to extend business rate relief beyond 31st March.
The Prime Minister said business would have to wait until the Budget.
Sir Keir accused Johnson of procrastination: “Let me let the Prime Minister into a secret. He can take decisions for himself and he doesn’t have to leave everything until the eleventh minute.”
The PM does sometimes leave things until the eleventh hour, or even until the last minute, compared to which the eleventh minute sounded quite prompt.
He retorted by mocking the Leader of the Opposition for “a damascene conversion” to the cause of business. Sir Keir said he was “not going to take lectures from a man who wrote two versions of every column”.
This exchange of jibes would have benefited from being conducted in front of a live audience. When the Commons is full, there is at least a chance that PMQs will come alive.
There is then a danger of things going wonderfully well, or horribly wrong, within the space of a few words. This ghostly Chamber can’t reproduce that threat.
Ian Blackford, appearing for the SNP by video screen from the Isle of Skye, accused the Government of leaving “1.3 million children under five living in poverty”.
Johnson said “we bitterly lament and regret the poverty that some families suffer”, but went on to observe, somewhat unexpectedly, that there is a “a profound philosophical difference” between the Scottish Nationalists and the Conservatives.
The SNP, he suggested, “is morphing into an ever more left-wing party that believes fundamentally it is the duty of the taxpayer to pay for more and more and more. We want to get people into jobs, Mr Speaker.”
Here is a line of which we can expect to hear more during the Scottish elections, when the Nats will be accused of trying to solve every problem by building a socialist state at the expense of frugal, hard-pressed taxpayers.
As if to distract from the seriousness of what he had said, Johnson continued to making teasing references to the Scottish Nationalist Party, instead of the Scottish National Party.
The Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, continued to reprove the Prime Minister for this, and for going on too long, and on one occasion quite rightly shut him up.
Johnson remained irrepressible. Here is a Prime Minister who greatly enjoys being underestimated, and who thinks he can win.