Hours after explosive reports emerged of two lockdown break parties in Downing Street last April, the general feeling at a Co-op branch where a government employee reportedly filled a suitcase with bottles of wine was one of disappointment.
The government was accused of being ‘the most corrupt we’ve ever had’ when customers and passers-by reacted to the allegations outside the supermarket on the Strand, near Whitehall.
A few former officials said they were “dismayed” by the latest allegations of abandonment parties held at No. 10 last April, the night before strict Covid rules forced the Queen to sit alone at Prince Philip’s funeral as she bid farewell to her 73-year-old husband.
As he spoke outside the supermarket, a man who only wanted to be called Richard said: the independent“I’m actually quite disgusted, because so many people followed the rules, and the people who made the rules decided they could break them.”
Asked if he thought the Prime Minister should resign over the string of rule-breaking allegations over the past few weeks, he added: “Yes, he probably should – but as a Labor supporter I’m delighted to have him here. and makes a mess of things.”
Richard’s wife Hilary thought it was unfair that the accusations seemed to influence attitudes towards all politicians.
“We are both former civil servants – we wouldn’t behave that way,” she said. “That someone would offer a meeting with alcohol… It’s very different rules than when we were civil servants.”
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A customer who said he knew Boris Johnson told… the independent he believed it was time for the prime minister to resign.
The man, who did not want to be identified, said his reaction to hearing the latest allegations was “disappointment with the character of leaders we have today”.
“I feel like seniors’ standards of behavior seem to have dropped in a number of areas of life,” he said. “There seems to be a belief that they can get away with a lot of things… and often they avoid the consequences.”
Meanwhile, Nurse Tracy Thompson said the current government is “the most corrupt we’ve ever had”.
“If [Johnson] said it was raining for you to go out and have a look,” she said. “I am a nurse and I visited people in care homes who were isolated in their own room. It just goes beyond anything.”
Her husband, Tony Thompson, accused the government of having “no moral leadership at all”.
“It’s not surprising, is it,” he said. “It’s Downing Street, and it all goes back to Johnson, because the fish rots from the head down and he creates that culture around him. He must go, and the whole cabinet with him, because they are all like him.”
The government was also accused by another passer-by of being “out of touch” and thinking “they are far superior to the public”. “If true, Boris Johnson should resign,” he added.
The woman accompanying him said she was “disappointed” and added: “It’s not what you expect from your leadership.”
But a man who strode past the Co-op on his way to work seemed to be repeating Secretary of State Liz Truss’ call for the nation to “go ahead” of the party gate.
Initially reluctant to quit, he said it was “annoying” but “I’m not really outraged”. “Just hit them with a fine or whatever and get on with life,” he added before running away.
The mildest response came from a Co-op customer who said she couldn’t blame the Prime Minister for the celebrations because she also broke the rules of taking care of her elderly mother.
But the shopper was surprised to hear the claims of an employee stocking wine at the grocery store. The Strand isn’t the most affordable place to buy booze, she said, and it probably would have been easier for them to go to Sainsbury’s instead.