WITH the pubs opening in England on Saturday the glum buckets (copyright Boris Johnson) had predicted carnage. So much so that this viewer half expected to switch on the Sunday politics shows to find Sophy Ridge rocking up late, her hair in a “dragged through a hedge backwards” style, and Andrew Marr anchoring the programme from home, still in his jim-jams.

There was none of that, however, with both presenters the picture of smooth professionalism, even if they had clearly failed to bag a hair appointment – unlike Matt Hancock, England’s Health Secretary.

“I had my hair cut yesterday and I’m very relieved about it,” he told Ridge proudly en route to The Andrew Marr Show.

On the BBC programme the Minister was, unusually, not top of the bill. This being the 72nd birthday of the NHS, that position was filled by Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England.

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Mr Hancock’s job was to reassure the public that England was still standing after a day in the pub. There had been scenes of crowds filling the streets of Soho, and the chair of the Police Federation in England and Wales tweeted about his shift in Southampton dealing with “naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks”.

But Mr Hancock said “very largely” people had behaved responsibly. No major stushies, then, though the Minister did have a minor run in of his own with Marr and Scotland’s First Minister, even if she was not present. In time-honoured tradition let us call the spat “Hugsgate”.

“In Scotland,” began Marr, “grandparents can now hug their grandchildren outside. In England they can’t.”

It was obvious, said the Scot, that people in Scotland were taking matters much more cautiously. The lockdown had gone on for longer, it was released more carefully, and people were behaving in a more watchful fashion.

“If you had done what Nicola Sturgeon has done, maybe grandparents in England would be able to hug their grandchildren now,” charged Marr.

Mr Hancock was having none of it. “The truth about what’s happened in Scotland is that they’ve done almost exactly the same things as we’ve done in England at almost exactly the same time.”

When Marr insisted the lockdown in Scotland had been tougher, the Minister cited data showing the amount of traffic on the roads initially went down further than England, but was now higher.

“I just query the narrative that you and Nicola Sturgeon are setting there,” said Mr Hancock.

“The whole UK went into lockdown essentially together and is coming out essentially together.

“The difference of a few days makes very little difference. I’d look at the substance of what his happening rather than necessarily what the First Minister always says.”

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In another change to tradition on Marr, this week’s “expert” slot was filled not by a scientist but someone who has devoted a sizeable chunk of her life recently to Melania Trump-watching.

Mary Jordan, the Pulitzer-prize winning Washington Post reporter and author of The Art of Her Deal, began by busting one of the major myths about the First Lady – that she cried bitterly when her husband won the presidency.

“Melania does not cry,” said Jordan. “When she gets mad she just disappears.”

When she had the most power was when the allegations of infidelity were made against her husband.

“She used that. He needed her to back him up in public. If she walked, and he was now a three times divorced president, it wouldn’t look good to his supporters.”

On Twitter, Melania and her husband play good cop/bad cop, said Jordan. “He makes a mistake, she helps him pull it back, because he would prefer her to do it than some political enemy. They act more as a team and they are often more complicated than it seems. Where she really shows her power is on big hires.”

When the shortlist for Vice-President came down to three, Mr Trump asked his wife to spend two days with Mike Pence and his family. She chose him, said Jordan, because he was not too ambitious, whereas the others, former Governor Chris Christie and ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich were “alpha” males. “Everyone knows Trump doesn’t do co-stars.”

Having entered the US on a so-called “Einstein visa” for individuals of exceptional ability, Mrs Trump has brought her parents and sister to America. Her parents are living in White House with the first couple and their son, Barron.

“I’ve heard from people there that there is this amazing daily scene in the private residence with the mother, father, Melania and Barron all speaking Slovenian. Trump will walk by and mutter about how it makes him crazy that he has no idea what they are saying,” said Jordan.

Oh, to be a Slovenian-speaking fly on those walls.

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