'A bit of a week'
After Peter Mandelson's wry description of "a bit of a week", he went on to deny that the prime minister had lost his authority.
However, Gordon Brown shows every sign of having lost the respect, the fear and habit of loyalty from his party which are the foundations of prime ministerial authority.
Yesterday, they delivered an unprecedented victory for an opposition motion, even after a direct appeal from the prime minister and concessions from the home secretary.
On Monday, they forced him to abandon the key plank of his proposal to reform MPs' expenses - the daily allowance in place of the much-criticised second homes allowance.
What's more, the head of the independent inquiry into expenses, Sir Christopher Kelly, refused a prime ministerial request to speed up his work and refused to be bound by Mr Brown's ideas; in the Commons yesterday, MPs laughed derisively as a jet-lagged prime minister moved to leave the chamber after question time, apparently forgetting that he had a statement to deliver.
What's more, another foreign leader - the Polish prime minister - embarrassed Gordon Brown on a visit, as had the Czech president before him. Donald Tusk pointed to his own country's fiscal rectitude, making the contrast with Britain all too obvious.
And, as Peter Mandelson said, it is only Thursday - and today the Commons must decide whether to back the rest of the Brown expenses plan or to leave reform entirely to that enquiry.
Authority, unlike virginity, can be regained. After all, Gordon Brown did just that last year - in part by appointing Peter Mandelson to the cabinet. However, as Lady Bracknell might have said to lose it once may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose it twice begins to look like carelessness.