WITH very few exceptions, MPs broke along party lines as they discussed the Prime Minister’s latest apology yesterday. Those Conservatives who spoke moved the topic on quickly to Ukraine while opposition backbenchers expressed the visceral anger that had Labour leader Keir Starmer seething.

However much credit you give Boris Johnson for the way he has handled the war situation – and he does deserve credit – he has broken the laws that he made, he has broken the trust that British people must have in their leaders to lead honestly, he has broken the ministerial code and he has misled Parliament.

Can he easily be forgiven? Should he be forgiven just because – with Chancellor Rishi Sunak looking desolate beside him – there is no obvious candidate to replace him in these difficult times?

Some of the PM’s supporters have sought to downplay the seriousness of his crime by saying that his fixed penalty notice is similar to a speeding ticket – and there are very few of us who haven’t received one of those.

But if you keep accruing speeding tickets you will lose your driving licence.

With the police investigation continuing, and with it looking likely that the PM will receive further fines, Conservative MPs will have to decide at what point they remove Mr Johnson’s licence to lead the country. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to receive one fine may be considered unlucky – and Mr Johnson’s defence is that he was thoroughly unlucky – but to receive two is careless.

The sullen Conservative backbenches appeared to be willing to allow Mr Johnson to continue for the moment, but should he become a careless serial offender, how will they justify keeping him in office?