The Sketch: Chris Huhne takes his opponents' points with surprising nonchalance

  • @SimonSketch

That was a week the Libs perfected their decapitation strategy. To kill a political party by taking its head off. They never managed it against the Tories but it's a fine exit strategy for themselves.

Last week it was David Laws convicted by his peers of a long- term systematic financial fraud. This week we see Chris Huhne's upper level lolling about and hanging on by a jugular vein. The transcript of a tape has been released which makes him look as low and manipulative as cynics think politicians naturally are.

Nick Clegg, the most hated politician in Britain since – I don't know – Oswald Mosley joined the bloody brotherhood with his plans for Lords reforms.

The reaction to his statement was mixed. Contempt, amused contempt, mockery mixed with sarcasm and incredulity. And that was from his colleagues, his allies, his partners.

Bernard Jenkin called it "the same tatty roadshow that brought us the AV campaign". Edward Leigh asked "how many other countries elect their representatives for 15 years? And he's going to have to do better than Papua New Guinea this time". Jesse Norman said the Lords needed "reform not abolition" – on and on it went.

David Cameron had come in to sit with Clegg, and Clegg stayed to sit with Huhne.

Huhne is German for chicken, and he's playing that dangerous game with his ex-wife. Accused by her of lying, he's driving straight at her oncoming car and accelerating. It looks like she's swerved off the road.

He was confident enough to make a joke about it during questioning – Barry Gardiner said he was glad Huhne rather than Vince Cable was in the driving seat on the Fourth Carbon Budget. Huhne: "I take the Rt Hon gent's points."

Think of the qualities you need to carry that off. Your abandoned wife is attacking you in public. She's accusing you of a criminal act. A secret tape has been released to the media. And you have to stand up in the House to face the mob.

Meg Hillier's speech was evidently written by someone with a sense of humour. She played the same game as the policeman played in the de Menezes inquest, trying to get song titles into his evidence. Her speech was littered with innuendo, from "pick up on a point" to "hasty" and "no rush there" to "can he be sure he's got the support of the PM".

None of it rattled the minister. As the House slowly became aware of Huhne's composure, it fell to Geraint Davis to ask whether he wanted to raise the speed limit, "as the transport secretary says he wants – and presumably his wife does too".

That didn't do the trick either. He'll be there until the moment – when or if – the police take him away.