Appearing via video link at SW1A magistrates court, Wednesday’s defendant faced a serious charge – “undermining the fabric of the United Kingdom”.
With unforgiving judge Sir Lindsay Hoyle in the chair and forensic prosecutor Sir Keir Starmer at the box, how would Boris Johnson plead?
Not guilty, cried Johnson from a locked Downing Street cupboard.
The prime minister – who’d brushed his hair and straightened his tie for this first remote Commons appearance – opted for the old “best defence, is offence” tactic – much to the dismay of the headmasterly Hoyle.
“I love the UK more than the Scottish NATIONALIST Party”, Johnson, clearly delighted with his wit, spouted.
No-nonsense Hoyle struck out the remark, informing the under-fire PM “it’s the Scottish National Party, not nationalist”.
Johnson, who’d clearly waived his right to counsel, remarked: “Ah, they’re national but not nationalist, I see”.
PM’s devolution demolition derby
Bringing his gavel down on the matter, Hoyle told Johnson “we can play pedantics another time”, before handing over to Starmer.
The former director of public prosecutions, who took on this case pro bono, wasted no time in drawing the jury’s attention to the charge.
“The single biggest threat to the future of the United Kingdom is the prime minister, every time he opens his mouth”, he said.
Johnson attempted to defect, drawing attention to his previous good character and laying blame at the SNP’s door.
The jury’s out, but the prime minister would be well advised to pack a toothbrush.