IT felt a bit like Groundhog Day after Boris Johnson once again went freelancing on Brexit; an exercise once described by his former Cabinet colleague Amber Rudd as “back-seat driving”.

Theresa May’s spokesman wore his metaphorical helmet as the missiles rained in from the inquisitors of HM Press.

But he had his script ready and any questions posed received the same dry response.

Dead-batting is a Downing St art.

Johnson openly defies May and calls Brexit customs plan ‘crazy’

Asked if the Prime Minister was happy that her Foreign Secretary had gone public to dub her preferred option of the customs partnership “crazy,” the spokesman looked down at his folder.

Then he read aloud the prepared text that a] there were two options, b] there were unresolved issues with them and c] further work was being done as a priority.

Further questions followed but all got the same bland answer.

It was pointed out how Mr Johnson’s pro-EU colleague Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, had also gone off piste at the weekend by talking up the customs partnership.

But Mr Clark has the virtue of blandness, which comes in handy sometimes when you are a minister.

Interestingly, when the PM’s spokesman was asked about Mr Clark’s surprise assertion that it was “possible” the customs arrangement could be put off until 2023.

He replied: “Look, you have the minister’s words but it is our intention that in December 2020 we will be leaving the customs union.”

Intention is an interesting word; it does not mean something will definitely happen.

Mrs May has a daunting task ahead of her and it might just come to a point where she concedes she cannot square the Brexit circle and has to set out what she believes is the best way forward and take the political consequences.

It might be that the Brexit showdown over customs options does not come this Thursday as officials are still busy “refining and improving” them; the Cabinet stramash could happen next week. Hold onto your hats.