On Friday, Barnaby Joyce put the gloves back on. After long days of morose self-flagellation, the deputy prime minister sprang up and about, doing what he does best: lashing opponents with those considerable verbal skills. Only this time the attack was directed at his senior partner and prime minister. Still, it must have felt good to be back on the front foot, seizing the day, marshalling the troops.

Let’s hope Barnaby squeezed every bit of enjoyment out of the experience, because he is finished as Nationals leader. Joyce can’t survive this — he will be gone long before the next election — and the chief question is: when he falls off the cliff, will he drag Malcolm Turnbull with him? Whether Joyce fully knew how much damage he inflicted on Turnbull at his press conference — behatted, in the shade, surely self-parodying even to a rusted-on Nationals supporter — or whether he truly hopes that if he hangs on long enough the media will move to something else, is unclear. Probably a bit of both.

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