Chilcot overshadowed everything. The mood in the House was sombre, even funereal, and there was a general tendency to refrain from playing the subject for partisan advantage.

So in his reply to David Cameron’s statement on the Chilcot report, Jeremy Corbyn avoided mentioning Tony Blair by name.

Mr Corbyn instead praised the late Robin Cook, who resigned in protest against the Iraq War, and said at the time “in a few hundred words what has been confirmed in the report in more than two million words”.

But though one may approve Mr Corbyn’s restraint, one cannot pretend he himself managed, in a few hundred words, to be in the slightest bit memorable. This was not a performance which forced one to recognise him as a more formidable figure.

Angus Robertson, leading for the Scottish Nationalists, took the chance at PMQs – so before Mr Cameron’s statement – to quote Mr Blair’s message to President George W. Bush: “We’ll be with you, whatever.”

Mr Cameron said he did not wish to pre-empt what he himself was about to say, but added that “no set of arrangements and plans…can provide perfection”.

Peter Lilley later contended, from the Conservative backbenches, that if you actually read the dodgy dossier put out by Number Ten, you could tell from its contents that there were no weapons of mass destruction.

So what was needed, Mr Lilley suggested, was an improved ability by both politicians and journalists to evaluate evidence.There too is a sombre lesson for us all.

Before PMQs, Kenneth Clarke and Sir Alan Duncan could be seen exchanging jokes, but the evidence does not unfortunately exist to know what these were, though one may suppose they had some reference to Mr Clarke’s brutally dismissive comments about the various Tory leadership contenders, caught the day before on a Sky News microphone.

During PMQs, Nick Boles could be seen trying to bend the ear of Jeremy Hunt as they both stood at the far end of the Chamber from the Speaker. Here too, one may guess some reference was made to the Tory leadership race.

But in the public exchanges, Sir John Chilcot set the tone, and was treated with almost perfect respect: a singular achievement.





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