This was exemplified by Geoffrey Cox QC, the bellicose Attorney General, thundering that it was “a dead Parliament” – and a “disgrace” – after he rejected repeated requests to reveal the legal advice that he offered the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Accusing his opponents of being “puerile” and “too cowardly” to back a General Election, this bombast did no favours whatsoever to a Prime Minister – and Government – which has been left bereft of credibility and authority as a result of this week’s Supreme Court ruling.
Yet, while the constitutional legitimacy and importance of MPs cross-examining Ministers should be acknowledged in spite of the belittling of Mr Cox and others, and an impassioned intervention by Huddersfield’s Barry Sheerman, the challenges facing the opposition parties are as significant as those facing Mr Johnson.
Why? As Mr Cox united the Brexit wing of the Tory party ahead of a third attempt to force an early election, the Government’s opponents need to decide if their primary purpose is to stop Brexit altogether; hold a second referendum or halt a no-deal Brexit while Ministers try to re-negotiate elements of Theresa May’s much maligned deal.
Not only do such mixed messages enable Mr Cox to play to his audience, and continue to audition for a future role in panto if his days as the country’s chief law officer prove to be somewhat shortlived, but it leaves the country no nearer to finding an acceptable way forward on Brexit.
This surely has to be Parliament’s primary responsibility to the people if MPs are to prove, in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, that there is purpose to their proceedings.