Keir Starmer faces a police investigation into his lockdown curry, after repeatedly demanding Boris Johnson should quit for breaching rules in similar circumstances. MailOnline has more.
The Labour leader is at risk of being engulfed by the so-called ‘Beergate’ row after Durham Police dramatically declared it will probe “significant new information” about the gathering.
The force initially decided Sir Keir did not breach Covid rules when he and party aides had drinks and a takeaway in April 2021, when millions of Britons were banned from mixing indoors in most circumstances. But following intense pressure and a series of revelations – including that up to 30 people attended and shared £200 worth of food – the position has shifted.
Sir Keir maintained a stony silence as journalists threw questions about the situation on a visit to Carlisle this afternoon. Labour said the party was “happy to answer any questions there are and we remain clear that no rules were broken”.
However, there is frustration among Tories that the decision was only taken after the local elections – when the PM’s own fine over the Partygate scandal damaged his support.
The development could raise serious doubts over Sir Keir’s future, as he trenchantly argued that Mr Johnson should resign when he was found to have broken the law.
Sir Keir had been filmed drinking a bottle of lager with colleagues at the event at the offices of Durham MP Mary Foy in the run-up to last year’s local elections – and has been wriggling when asked about the incident all week.
Sadiq Khan risked inflaming the row earlier this week by admitting there was “equivalence” between Keir Starmer’s actions and the PM’s birthday gathering in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 – which has seen him and Chancellor Rishi Sunak fined. Mr. Khan suggested the main difference was that the Labour leader only broke lockdown once.
Tory MP Richard Holden, backed by several ministers, wrote to Durham Constabulary insisting there was now “incontrovertible” evidence Labour had “lied” about the events of a year ago, including there now disproved claim that the deputy leader Angela Rayner was not there.
A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said:
Earlier this year, Durham Constabulary carried out an assessment as to whether COVID-19 regulations had been breached at a gathering in Durham City on April 30th 2021. At that time, it was concluded that no offence had been established and therefore no further action would be taken. Following the receipt of significant new information over recent days, Durham Constabulary has reviewed that position and now, following the conclusion of the pre-election period, we can confirm that an investigation into potential breaches of COVID-19 regulations relating to this gathering is now being conducted.
As with Partygate, for sceptics the criticism is not that Starmer and others were having a gathering, which sceptics think should never have been illegal. It’s that they were attending one while supporting the very restrictions that made most such gatherings against the law. Boris’s offence was made worse by being the writer of the rules. For Starmer, it is his repeated calls for restrictions to be tougher and longer that aggravates his (alleged) offence. In all cases, it exposes that these political leaders did not fear the virus that they were telling the country to cower in their homes and make huge sacrifices to avoid catching or passing on. The same politicians who stoked the fear and clamour for restrictions are now being eaten by the monster of public indignation and grief that they created. Will they learn? Somehow I doubt it.
Worth reading in full.