On his first day as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liberal Democrat MP Danny Alexander is facing charges that he avoided paying more than £1.30 on the price of a sandwich, drink and snack item in a rail-station chemist last year.
The items, a bottle of Coke Zero, a chicken and bacon sandwich and a packet of flame-grilled steak flavour McCoys, would normally cost £4.32 combined, but Alexander paid only £2.99. Boots staff insist that he did not break any rules but admit that he exploited a little-known meal price loophole allowing certain combinations of foods to be forced through the till at a fraction of the normal price.
"Obviously I deeply regret what has happened," Alexander told journalists this morning. "At the time I didn't think I was doing anything wrong; the big red and white signs were up offering me the discount and I thought it sounded like a good deal." Mr Alexander, who has promised from now on to buy both halves of his customary foot-long Chicken Teriyaki sub separately, faces charges from Labour MPs that he should resign.
The scandal comes mere days after his predecessor, David Laws, was forced to resign following the revalation that he contributed to his boyfriend's rent payments instead of renting a separate flat. "Laws was a good politician doing good work," said Prime Minister David Cameron, "but we must not allow MPs to continue saving the taxpayer money on rent or alleviating London's housing difficulties with impunity. Those were the old politics, and those days are gone."