TETCHIER and tetchier.

As PMQs progressed Bozza’s irritation at the line of attack from the chief comrade grew and grew; so much so that the static electricity ricocheting around the Commons chamber seemed to be affecting the PM’s hair wildly.

The Labour knight began his weekly onslaught by expressing “shock and anger” at the terrible death in the US of George Floyd and expressed surprise the PM had not yet felt the need to mention it but urged him to relate the UK’s “abhorrence” when he next spoke to his chum in the White House.

Boris quickly associated himself with his opponent’s words, saying what had happened across the pond was “appalling and inexcusable”. Funny though, the words Donald Trump never crossed his lips.

As expected, Sir Keir picked up on a report that suggested our straw-haired premier was taking “direct control” of Government’s response to the virus and so asked, to Labour laughter, who had been in direct control thus far.

The PM sniffed and hit back, to noises of encouragement from the Tory benches, listing his Government’s achievements, like getting the death rate down, and once again insisted the public’s “good British common sense” would see the country through.

Then came Boris’s first level of irritation, telling the Labour leader: “What the country would like to hear from him is more signs of co-operation in that endeavour.”

The chief comrade, leaning on the dispatch box, pointed out how he had written confidentially to the PM two weeks ago to offer support in getting children back to school south of the Border but…didn’t get a reply.

When Sir K claimed a poll had shown the public had lost trust in the Government’s handling of the pandemic Boris reached the second level of irritation.

He expressed surprise at the Labour knight’s tone given he had “taken the trouble” to ring him up and had gone through the Government’s plan, which the Leader of the Opposition had “thoroughly endorsed”.

The atmosphere got icier as the chief comrade rounded on the Government’s “world-beating” test and trace scheme, which, he said, was not fully up and running as promised but the PM muttered from his seat: “It’s not true.”

Then, banging the dispatch box, Boris reached the third level of irritation, accusing his opposite number of casting aspersions on people who had volunteered to set up the new scheme from a standing start as a result of which “thousands of people” had been tested and were self-isolating.

As Tory hear hears rang out, the Labour chief calmly pointed out there were no precise figures and that even when the Government used statistics there were concerns from the official Statistics Authority they were not being used properly. Again, he raised the issue of public trust.

By now, Boris’s blood began to boil as he reached level four, complaining: “I really do not see the purpose of these endless attacks on public trust and confidence.”

Sir Keir snapped: “The PM confuses scrutiny for attacks.” Insisting he had been supporting the Government, he told Bozza: “But boy, he makes it difficult to support this Government over the last two weeks.”

The Labour chief challenged on the Government’s alert level, suggesting being at level four did not allow the lifting of the current restrictions.

As the Old Etonian reached the fifth level of irritation, he again banged the dispatch box, insisting the Labour knight knew “perfectly well” the alert level DID allow the easing, pointing out how, during their cosy tete-a-tete on the telephone, he did not raise the issue once.

The static in his hair fizzing, Boris accused Sir K of a U-turn of backing the Government strategy and now opposing it. “Our policy is test, trace and isolate, his policy is agree, U-turn and criticise,” he declared.

While the PM gave a robust response to his opponent’s attacks, Sir K knows, after years of Corbyn’s missed punches, Boris is beginning to take a few hits on the chin and doesn’t like it.