Starmer ‘should be more worried’ says Andrew Neil
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Broadcaster Andrew Neil has revealed the Labour leader will be forced to resign if he is issued a fine over the alleged lockdown breach. Sir Keir Starmer has denied the allegations saying that it was purely for work purposes and did not breach coronavirus rules. Durham Constabulary announced on Friday it was investigating claims an evening event attended by the Labour leader with other senior party figures and activists while campaigning last year might have broken pandemic social distancing regulations.
Speaking to LBC, Mr Neil said: “At the moment I would say Keir Starmer in the immediate future should be more worried because the beer and curry business is a real threat to him.
“My journalist colleagues tell me if he does get a Fixed Penalty Notice he will probably have to resign even though the Prime Minister hasn’t resigned.
“But because he made such a big deal of it that he probably would have to resign.
“His fate is currently in the hands of Durham plod which is not a great way to have your fate.”
Police said they had U-turned on an earlier ruling after receiving “significant new information”.
The force initially said that they did not believe an offence had been committed.
Police have not revealed what additional details sparked the probe but The Times reported a “key factor” was confirmation deputy leader Angela Rayner attended the evening.
Labour had previously denied she had been present.
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The Daily Telegraph said the so-called “beergate” investigation will take up to six weeks, with those suspected of having breached lockdown rules due to be sent questionnaires.
Sir Keir, a former director of public prosecutions, told reporters on Friday in London – having returned from a victory lap around the country following Labour local elections successes – he did not believe the event had breached the rules.
“As I’ve explained a number of times, we were working in the office, we stopped for something to eat – no party, no breach of the rules,” he said.
“The police obviously have got their job to do, we should let them get on with it.
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“But I’m confident that no rules were broken.”
The police faced mounting pressure in the final weeks of the local election campaign to re-examine allegations of wrongdoing by the opposition leader.
This came after footage emerged of Sir Keir drinking a beer with reportedly up to 30 colleagues at a constituency office in Durham in April 2021 while campaigning for the Hartlepool by-election.
At the time of the gathering, non-essential retail and outdoor venues including pub gardens were open but social distancing rules, which included a ban on indoor mixing between households, remained in place.
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