AS if there has not already been enough flak for Boris Johnson this week, he was again under political fire over keeping his Home Secretary in post after she was found to have bullied staff.

Rather than Priti Patel resigning over the latest Whitehall drama, it was the man whom the Prime Minister asked to investigate the allegations against the Secretary of State, who said there had been bullying albeit unintentionally, who ended up quitting his job.

The Home Secretary was said to have shouted and sworn at staff but she strenuously denied she was guilty of any wrongdoing. Ms Patel acknowledged “I am direct and have at times got frustrated” but insisted any bad behaviour on her part had been “completely unintentional”.

No 10 was quick to her defence, saying there were “mitigating factors” ie there were no complaints at the time the bullying happened, relations between ministers and officials in the Home Office have improved and Ms Patel said sorry; last night she went on the BBC to issue an “unreserved, fulsome apology”.

Conveniently for the PM in this process, he is the sole arbiter about what does or does not constitute a breach of the ministerial code.

Politics, of course, infects everything. Having been through the political grinder of this week over Scottish devolution and the other week with the departure of Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson could not let the sense of mayhem and dysfunction at the heart of Government result in losing the most powerful woman in his Cabinet and a Brexit ally to boot.

The standards watchdog will now include the Patel case into its review of the ministerial code but there does not seem to be much independence in the process if the independent adviser to the PM can come to an independent judgement only for it to be overturned by the PM.

Labour, as expected, were outraged and the row enabled them to once again push the “test of leadership” button. Sir Keir Starmer made clear he would have sacked Ms Patel. Obviously.

One large dash of irony was provided by Angela Rayner, Sir Keir’s deputy, who highlighted a tweet from Ms Patel in March last year, when, on the backbenches, she urged politicians to resist “bullying and intimidation” as it was “not the type of the leadership or behaviour anyone should sanction or endorse”.

At the time it was rumoured any Brexiteers rebelling against the then PM, Theresa May’s Brexit deal could be suspended from the Tory Party.

Of course, another large dash of irony is that this is officially anti-bullying week. You couldn’t make it up.