A generous way of explaining what happened is that he was so determined to be prime minister that he would promise anything to get there — and in making that pledge against an internal UK barrier, he was undermining the woman he wanted to replace, Theresa May.
But whatever the prime minister’s shortcomings, his critics and enemies often under-estimate the man. He is likened to Donald Trump but the comparison is completely unfair. In many ways he is the opposite of the former US president.
Mr Trump was not only unembarrassed by his ignorance on multiple issues, he boasted about his brilliance in matters of which he had no experience (such as the military).
Mr Johnson on the other hand often plays the fool when in fact his world class education puts him comfortably within the top 1% of the population in terms of knowledge.
Anyone who has read some of his former newspaper columns will realise what a supremely intelligent and thoughtful man he can be.
In recent weeks he has emerged from near political ruin to become one of the most prominent supporters of the Ukrainian resistance.
And he showed high emotional intelligence (or you might say cunning) in the way that he apologised for the partygate episode and professed humility over it all.
I suspect he will weather this storm, but Owen Polly, in his weekly column this coming Monday, writes maybe not.
• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter editor
• Ben Lowry main column: There should be room for firm unionists who are also liberal
• Ben Lowry last week: Even if Article 16 is not triggered London knows that the NI Protocol is a huge problem
• Ben Lowry April 2: Three things to look out for in the coming election
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