Considering his position
After all that, sorry seems NOT to be the hardest word. The defence secretary's statement to the House of Commons did not contain the "s" word. Des Browne said instead that "I made a mistake". Under pressure from the Tories, however, he did finally if somewhat testily say, "if he wants me to say sorry I'm happy to say that".
The silence in which his statement was heard was only interrupted by cheers from the Labour benches. Liam Fox - for the Tories - called for him "to consider his position" - code for resign. There is now no chance of that.
Des Browne came to the Commons aware that he had the support of the chief of the defence staff and heads of the armed forces, the backing of the prime minister, healthy opinion poll ratings (which show only around a third of the public want him to go) and a great deal of solidarity from the Labour backbenches. Des Browne has proved that politicians can make mistakes and say sorry and still survive if they have few enemies waiting for them to fail. All he needs to worry about now is whether he still has the support of his friend, Gordon Brown.