Of all the ways to measure the UK’s standing in the world, the most bizarre has to be the country’s finishing position in Eurovision.

Forget the permanent seat on the UN Security Council, GDP, health spending and suchlike. For one night a year, what matters to a small but dedicated band is whether the UK is a nul points washout or a winner.

On Saturday in Turin the UK’s entrant, Sam Ryder, finished second with Space Man, but as he was runner up to Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra it was as good as a win. Or at least it was on the Sunday politics shows.

“Finally, Europe loves us again,” declared Sophie Raworth, presenter of BBC1’s Sunday Morning. On Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday, the first question to Kwasi Kwarteng, Business Secretary and for one day only the minister for the Sunday shows, was about Eurovision. As far as Mr Kwarteng was concerned, the UK did so well because it had a good contestant. If only it was that simple.

Talking about Eurovision was so much easier for the Minister than addressing the week’s other Europe-related matter: what to do about the Northern Ireland Protocol.

As Mr Kwarteng was reminded via a clip, the Prime Minister had promised at the time that there would be no checks on goods going from Britain to Northern Ireland. “No, absolutely not,” Boris Johnson told Ridge in December 2019.

But here we were in 2022, Brexit done, but checks also being done, as many had warned the UK Government would be the case. Now the Northern Ireland Assembly stands suspended, waiting for the UK and EU to sort things out.

With Boris Johnson due in Belfast today, the UK Cabinet has appeared divided between those to want to unilaterally tear up the protocol for the sake of preserving peace in Northern Ireland, and those urging calm for the same reason. Though Mr Johnson was said to be veering towards the latter, his Business Secretary seemed determined to keep the EU guessing.

“I don’t think there is going to be a trade war. There has been a lot of talk, a lot of threats about what the EU will or won’t do. That is up to them,” he told Raworth.

“As far as I am concerned, our primary duty as the British Government is to look after political stability in Northern Ireland. If that means re-looking at the protocol, we absolutely have to do that.”

Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Foreign Minister, told Ridge that the “sabre-rattling” coming out of London was unhelpful. If the UK acted unilaterally and “illegally”, it would not reflect majority opinion in Northern Ireland. It would also lead to headlines around the world that this British Government would set aside international law when it suited them.

There was a chance in the next few days to get the negotiation process back on track, he said adding: “The EU hasn’t threatened anything, not a trade war and not anything else. What the EU wants is partnership so that we can work together to resolve the issues that remain in relation to the protocol … the last thing the EU wants, the last thing that Ireland wants, is tension with the UK, particularly at the moment given what’s happening in Ukraine, Russian aggression, and the need to work together on an international stage.”

Also ahead this week, Labour will tomorrow table an amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for a windfall tax on the record profits of energy companies. The man in charge of punting this idea round the studios was Ed Miliband, shadow climate change secretary.

According to Mr Miliband, the case for a windfall tax was now unanswerable, with the chairman of Tesco backing the idea and at least one industry chief conceding that it would not harm investment plans, as critics had feared.

The Business Secretary, however, was not for turning on this one. “I don’t believe in windfall taxes because what you are taxing is investment in jobs, you are taxing investment in wealth creation, you’re taxing investment in new technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture,” he told Raworth.

Having spent five long years as Labour leader, Mr Miliband might have thought he would be spared any speculation about future ambitions in that sphere. No chance, or not when Sophie Raworth is around. If Sir Keir Starmer steps down, as he has promised to do if he is fined for a breach of Covid rules, would Mr Miliband have another go at being Labour leader, she asked.

The sound from Mr Miliband was part scoff, part wounded animal. “Uh,” he said, “don’t be ridiculous!” Yet as seen on Eurovision, stranger things can happen.