PAXMAN: WIth us in the studio is a cardboard cut-out of Treasury minister Chloe Smith. Well, minister, when were you told of the plan?
CARDBOARD CUT-OUT OF SMITH : [looks plaintively into middle distance]
PAXMAN: I’m asking for a statement of facts about when you were told. You were told some time today, clearly. Was it before lunch or after lunch?
CARDBOARD CUT-OUT OF SMITH: [wobbles slightly as someone opens a door in the studio]
PAXMAN: I just want to know when you were told. I’m not even going to ask you who told you but when you were told what the change of policy was?
CARDBOARD CUT-OUT OF SMITH: [wobbles frantically as if being used for musical effects by an invisible Rolf Harris]
PAXMAN: Is it hard for you to defend a policy you don’t agree with? You said that it wasn’t certain that cutting fuel duty would have a positive effect on families or businesses. That was on the 23rd of May, now what’s happened between the 23rd of May and today which is, what, the 25th of June?
CARDBOARD CUT-OUT OF SMITH: [maintains resolute silence in face of inquisitorial onslaught]
PAXMAN: Why didn’t the transport secretary know about it yesterday?
CARDBOARD CUT-OUT OF SMITH: [sways from side to side as if Padraig Harrington walking on a green during the final round of a major golf championship]
PAXMAN: Which department is the money going to come from?
CARDBOARD CUT-OUT OF SMITH: [refuses to be drawn into answering the question]
PAXMAN: Is this some kind of joke?
CARDBOARD CUT-OUT OF SMITH: [reacts adversely to second door opening in studio by swaying frantically]
PAXMAN: You ever think you are incompetent?
CARDBOARD CUT-OUT OF SMITH: [falls over knocking a glass of water into Paxman’s lap]