'I wouldn't want to be Boris': traders in Lynn give their views on Partygate
- Credit: Chris Bishop
Boris Johnson isn't the first Prime Minister with a penchant for parties.
Supporters of Britain's first-ever PM, Robert Walpole threw lavish balls to celebrate his election triumphs at a hotel in King's Lynn.
A plaque on the side of the Duke's Head, which towers over the Tuesday Market Place, records the fact for posterity.
But traders on the sparsely-attended market outside the hotel were divided over the conduct of our current premier, as he jets off to Ukraine in a bid to stave off a Russian invasion, as the flak continues to fly at home over Partygate.
"It's horrendous," said Michael Pattison as he poured an expresso from his mobile coffee stand.
"I'm not a fan of the Conservatives, I come from the north-east.
"He's an absolute buffoon, Boris Johnson, but I know a lot of people in this area seem to support him. I just think he should go."
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Stephanie Smith, who runs a greetings card stall nearby, said: "I don't know what's going to happen, but the thing is who's going to jump in and replace him?
"Some of my customers say they'd get in there and get him out but what would they do - I wouldn't want the job for all the tea in China."
Customers were thin on the ground and the market's five stalls saw little in the way of activity on their once thriving site - despite the full car park next door.
"I'm more interested in hearing about how the council's going to support the market than hearing about their parties," said another trader.
A colleague added: "I'm just staying out of it, I don't get involved in politics. I've just got no interest in it."
One man, who declined to be named, was rifling through his pockets for change for the car park.
"Look, what harm have they caused, who've they given it [Covid] to," he said.
"They aren't the only ones who've bent the rules, are they? I mean I'm not saying any more but I'm not exactly whiter than white if you get my drift."
A Covid testing bus was parked outside the Duke's Head, where Walpole's plaque proclaimed he was Prime Minister for 40 years from 1702 - 1742, after being elected MP for Kings Lynn.
"Sir Robert was a regular patron of the Duke's Head where his supporters held balls to celebrate his regular election to Parliament for King's Lynn," it says.
It seems unlikely Mr Johnson will emulate Sir Robert's four decades at the helm, in which he played an important role in getting the nation's finances back on an even keel after the the so-called South Sea Bubble regarded as the world's first-ever financial crisis.
Walpole (1676 - 1745) lived in 10 Downing Street from 1735.
It is not known how many parties were held at the property during his tenure.
Mr Johnson remains determined to hold onto the keys of Number 10 despite the revelation police are now investigating 12 separate gatherings - including three that he is known to have attended and one in the Prime Minister's Downing Street flat - to find out whether coronavirus lockdown laws were broken.
The disclosure came as an interim report by senior civil servant Sue Gray into the so-called Partygate debacle highlighted "failures of leadership and judgment" at the heart of Government.
Mr Johnson's position appears to be secure for now following a meeting with Tory MPs and peers on Monday night and the Prime Minister's promise to make major changes to his Downing Street operation.
But his administration must still weather the storm when Ms Gray's full report is published after police have concluded their investigations into the Downing Street gatherings.