Tony Blair last night acknowledged that the Government had endured a "rather tough time" over the past few months.
The Prime Minister used an interview for the No 10 website to acknowledge that the rows over John Prescott's affair with his secretary, the foreign prisoners release debacle, and falling opinion poll ratings had taken their toll.
But he insisted that he and other Ministers were concentrating on getting on with the business of governing the country.
"It has been a rather tough time in the last few months, but if you look at the policy direction, whether it pensions or it is NHS reform or it is schools policy or it is energy, we are actually getting on with the job," he said.
Mr Blair acknowledged that the failure to consider hundreds of foreign prisoners for deportation had been a "mistake".
But after new Home Secretary John Reid complained that parts of his department were "dysfunctional", Mr Blair emphasised that it had also made some significant improvements.
He also praised Lin Homer, the head of the muchcriticised Immigration and Nationality Directorate, saying that she was doing a "fantastic job".
Defending Mr Prescott in the wake of the disclosures over his affair with his former diary secretary Tracey Temple, he added: "Of course politicians should be accountable for their behaviour."
But he continued: "In the end, the part he has played in changing the Labour Party, I think people will look back on and say is as substantial as anyone else's, including mine."