THERE is an ignoble rule in politics that when your opponent is down the thing to do is to kick and keep on kicking.

But it seems the terribly affable chief comrade can’t bring himself to obey it and, consequently, his opponent invariably has time to recover and kick back.

And so it was at PMQs.

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After heartfelt tributes were made to the Scottish Labour stalwart Jimmy Hood, who sadly died this week, Jezza began with a sarcastic jab, asking Maggie May if she agreed with her chum Liam Fox that securing a free trade agreement with the EU would be "one of the easiest in human history".

As the comrades chuckled, Thezza kept a straight face to declare how "very good progress" was actually being made in the Brexit talks before asserting the Government believed it could get a deal "that is right for the whole United Kingdom"; Ruth Davidson take note.

When the PM suggested how her slight little difficulty meant there were "still a couple of things" to be negotiated with Jean-Claude Juncker, the socialist heckling took off.

As Thezza insisted the aim was to avoid a hard border with the Irish Republic, Labour MPs shouted: “How?”

To which, the top Tory then suggested – sparking bewilderment among not only Her Majesty’s Press but also among most others in the Commons – “we aim to deliver this as part of our overall trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union and we can only talk about that when we get into phase two".

So the whole drama on Monday, when there was a phase one deal and then, thanks to the intervention of a bewildered DUP chief Arlene Foster, there wasn’t, was for nought as the Irish border issue was for phase two anyway.

What this suggests is that things are not looking good for next week and getting the EU27 to agree “sufficient progress” has been made; the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, is even now talking about resuming talks next year. Oh dear.

In the chamber Jezza denounced the “shambles” which was the Tory “coalition of chaos” and quoted a Conservative donor, who had described her colleagues as a “bunch of jellyfish masquerading as a Cabinet”.

Yet the chief comrade stumbled over his questioning, which left Maggie May in her best Thatcherite tone to kick back and highlight the array of different approaches on Brexit put forward by the Opposition front bench.

Aiming her kitten heel shoe where it hurts, the PM quipped to Tory cheers: “The only hard border around is right down the middle of the Labour Party.”

Watch PMQs in full