Theresa May’s grace under pressure remains impressive. She has doubtless been familiar since childhood with Rudyard Kipling’s lines:

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too…

Among the men to doubt her today were Peter Bone (Con, Wellingborough) and Nigel Evans (Con, Ribble Valley). Bone said he had been out with 40 Conservative activists at the weekend and they all want her to resign now.

The Prime Minister replied that she had just received more encouraging tidings from Rachel Maclean (Con, Redditch), which is true. In Redditch, the Tories are not all calling for her to resign.

May told Bone the Government wants to deliver Brexit, and if everybody had voted for her deal we would already have left the EU.

Evans wanted reassurance that “we will”, as promised, “deliver the full Brexit”. The Prime Minister replied that the Conservative manifesto promises “a smooth, orderly Brexit”. One could not help feeling that for Evans, and others, the two expressions do not mean the same.

A tannoy announcement broke in upon the House’s deliberations:

May I have your attention please.

May I have your attention please.

The test is now complete.

The disembodied voice, a man’s, sounded rather spooky. Were we getting a message from beyond the grave?

May must believe her test is not yet complete, and she still has a chance of passing it. What a wonderful surprise that would be.

But the atmosphere in the Chamber today was becalmed, as in a class room where the pupils have completed, with huge gaps, the test, but are being allowed a bit more time, just in case they suddenly and implausibly remember the answers.

Pete Wishart (SNP, Perth and North Perthshire) remarked that the Conservative benches looked “a bit threadbare”. Quite a lot of MPs on both sides of the House had not turned up, because they were certain nothing much would happen.

Jeremy Corbyn was there, and accused the Government of being “in the pockets of a super-rich elite”. He is trying out his lines for the general election, when he hopes very much that May will still be leading the Tories.