Now, to rebuild their trust, the Prime Minister has a massive mountain to climb.
His first strides out of the foothills show genuine contrition. Goodness knows, the country deserved his humbling apology.
Mr Johnson was the architect of the most draconian curbs on our freedoms in living memory. People made enormous sacrifices to stop Covid’s spread.
Thousands suffered the anguish of being forbidden from being at loved ones’ funerals. Many said goodbye to dying relatives over Zoom.
Yet while they stuck fastidiously to the rules, No10 broke them with cavalier disregard. So it was right Mr Johnson donned sackcloth and ashes.
Boris Johnson prides himself on being the ‘people’s politician’. But by attending a lockdown-busting Downing Street garden party in May 2020, he has disastrously misread the public mood
The Daily Mail believes his remorse is sincere. Yet his claim that he believed the party a work event raises eyebrows. For his sake, that assertion mustn’t unravel.
Still, the PM is not yet out of the woods. An official inquiry into Whitehall parties could land him in hot water.
Tory MPs may conclude he has become a political liability. And at May’s elections, voters could desert the Conservatives in droves – potentially sealing his fate.
Mr Johnson must, however, hope he is judged in the round. Ending all restrictions in the summer, the booster rollout and his courageous rejection of lockdown measures as Omicron surged were masterstrokes.
If he lifts Plan B curbs, he would be hailed a hero as England becomes the first developed country to exit the pandemic.
The PM is not yet out of the woods. An official inquiry into Whitehall parties could land him in hot water
We would steal a march by kick-starting the economy. Ministers must turbocharge this by cutting self-isolation to five days in order to get people back to work.
Yes, Mr Johnson’s moral authority is undoubtedly damaged. But he should never be written off.
He has rebounded from setbacks that would have finished off lesser politicians.
But to be rehabilitated, he must end the self-inflicted scandals, shake-up his No10 team, bring in Tory policies and focus 100 per cent on people’s real-life concerns.
For Boris, this week’s unedifying events must be a watershed moment.
A stain on the royals
The giant shadow Prince Andrew casts over the Royal Family gets even darker.
The Duke of York faces a civil trial over allegations he raped Virginia Roberts when she was 17, which he strongly denies.
Andrew, a friend of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, has only two nightmarish options: Settle, with the shame that would bring … or go to trial, with all the humiliation that would surely follow.
This is a stain on the monarchy. The Queen, preparing to mark her Platinum Jubilee, always carries herself impeccably. If only Andrew had an ounce of her dignity.
The Duke of York faces a civil trial over allegations he raped Virginia Roberts when she was 17, which he strongly denies
Put trust in Truss
Liz Truss won a formidable reputation as international trade secretary for signing, sealing and delivering deals.
So we hope and trust the Foreign Secretary will have similar success tackling the flawed Northern Ireland Protocol.
Over-fastidious EU checks on British exports to the province, plus concerns over European Court of Justice meddling, are dangerously inflaming sectarian tensions.
Launching a new charm offensive on the European Commission to break the deadlock, Miss Truss will not shy away from invoking Article 16 to preserve Ulster’s fragile peace.
But with much more pragmatism, and much less dogmatism, both sides can surely agree a mutually beneficial deal.