Starmer skewered as he’s warned public will not forgive his hypocrisy over beergate

Alex Norris asked if Keir Starmer should resign if fined

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Durham Constabulary opened an investigation on Friday into the Labour leader over potential breaches of Covid regulations at a gathering in the city on April 30, 2021. Sir Keir is pictured holding a bottle in the Durham Miners’ Hall during the run up to last years by-election in Hartlepool.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “We’re obviously happy to answer any questions there are and we remain clear that no rules were broken.”

Sir Keir also said on Friday: “We were working in the office, we stopped for something to eat, no party, no breach of the rules.

“The police obviously have their job to do and we should let them get on with it but I’m confident no rules were broken.”

However, a leaked memo obtained by The Mail On Sunday indicated the dinner had been listed on a schedule the same day.

The document stated that there would be a “dinner in Miners Hall” with City of Durham MP Mary Foy from 8.40pm to 10pm.

Dan Hodges, writing for the Mail On Sunday, said “Labour lied” over the claims, and accused them of “inexplicable – and increasingly desperate – evasion, obfuscation and deceit”.

He quoted a source who was at the Durham offices, who said Sir Keir filmed campaign videos at 7.30pm before sitting down for a briefing with one of his press officers to prepare him for a series of interviews due to be conducted in Hartlepool the next day.

The source then said Sir Keir and Angela Rayner appeared via Zoom for an online Get Out The Vote campaign rally, which ended around 9pm.

Speaking to Mr Hodges, the source said at least 15 people were in attendance for the dinner, and added: “If we’d have been in London we could have ordered food at 7.30pm and it would have arrived by 8pm.

“But it took ages for the food to arrive. I think it might have arrived late, but the order was phoned through earlier. I’m not sure when.”

Referencing the leaked memo, which said Sir Keir had “Dinner in Miners Hall with Mary Foy” from 8.40pm to 10pm before a “Walk from Miners Hall to Radisson Blu”, the source said: “I’m not sure when they all got back, but no one was hanging around at the hall.”

Mr Hodges noted Labour initially claimed Ms Rayner was not in attendance, as well as Sir Keir’s claims he was with six staffers.

He then said: “The reason Starmer and his team failed to provide a comprehensive breakdown of the events of that night was because to do so would have meant admitting they retained a detailed record.

“And once they had done that, they would have been asked to provide it. At that point everyone would have seen the Mary Foy ‘dinner’.

“They would have seen no one was scheduled to go back to work after the dinner. They would have seen, in other words, that Labour’s explanations about exactly what happened that night were a tissue of lies.”

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Concluding his comments, Mr Hodges said: “The voters will forgive many things. But hypocrisy – or even worse, self-righteous hypocrisy – is politically toxic.”

He also said: “Trust. Honesty. Decency. Transparency. These were supposed to form the foundation of Starmer’s leadership, and ultimately, premiership. A foundation that, through his own stupidity, is splintering beneath his feet.

“What has he been thinking these past few weeks? As the questions mounted, and the lies were compounded, why didn’t he call a halt, and just tell the truth?

“How has he failed to learn the lesson of Johnson’s own Partygate defenestration? And remember the cast-iron political rule: it’s never the offence, it’s the cover-up.”

Speaking to Sky, top Labour MPs have admitted he might have to resign if he receives a fine.

A shadow minister told Sky News: “It really doesn’t feel like the same to me, but I guess we will need to see what happens if he’s fined.

“I guess it’s tough when we’ve called on the PM to resign.”

A former shadow cabinet minister said: “If he’s fined then yes [he should resign], but I doubt he will be.”

Diane Abbott, former shadow home secretary, also told LBC: “If he actually gets a fixed penalty notice he really has to consider his position.

“I mean, I don’t think he will, I think this is a lot of sort of hype built up by the Tory press.

“But if he were to get a fixed penalty notice he would have to consider his position.”

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