BORIS JOHNSON was always likely to "stick with Prit" (his joke). Home Secretary Priti Patel is popular with Conservative MPs, and although she has offered a "fulsome apology" in which she apologised for absolutely nothing, she may secretly feel that her tough guy reputation has been enhanced.

Being rude to extremely well paid mandarins who perhaps have not shared her urgent desire to get things done may not be seen as the most serious of crimes.

However, it is a very messy episode in which the Government's standards chief, Sir Alex Allan, has resigned having reported that Ms Patel did break the ministerial code. What is the point of having a standards chief if Mr Johnson is going to act as as the ultimate referee and over-rule him to save the skin of one of his friends?

And if a government doesn't respect its own employees, who is it going to respect?

This is probably what is most damaging about this episode. It adds to the impression that the Government doesn't respect the basics, be they procurement standards on PPE, or international law over treaties, or the ministerial code over bullying. This lack of respect is beginning to stain its reputation.