Boris Johnson today faced the question that has become familiar to so many in 2020: “Are you muted?”
The prime minister was not taking part in a family quiz, but giving a statement to parliament on the government’s coronavirus strategy when his video sound cut out.
Neither he nor the Commons accepted responsibility for the technical problem, with both sides blaming each other.
Johnson is self-isolating after having breakfast with Covid-stricken Tory MP Lee Anderson, so had to update MPs by video from Downing Street.
But as he was answering a question from fellow Tory Mark Harper, the sound went dead.
The chamber erupted with laughter as speaker Lindsay Hoyle made several attempts to regain contact with Johnson.
“Have you pressed the button, prime minister?” he asked, but silence ensued.
One MP could be heard to joke “he’s not paid the electric”, while others began to laugh.
Hoyle continued: “Have you pressed the button by mistake? Are you muted? It’s not our end, prime minister. It could well be yours.”
He then suggested that health secretary Matt Hancock could step in and continue the debate.
The two cabinet ministers seemed unable to decide, leading Hoyle to add: “Is one of you going to do it or not? It’s no good looking at each other.”
Just after Hoyle suspended proceedings, an echoey Johnson could heard saying “some problem with the sound”.
When the House returned, Hancock started to answer questions on the government’s plan to replace England’s national lockdown on December 2 with a new system of tiers 1, 2 and 3.
Several people on Twitter poked fun at the hiccup.
But Johnson, when he finally returned, insisted: “For the record, the problem does not appear to be our end so I hope that people do not think I am in any way trying to avoid scrutiny from honourable members.”