Party crisis

Sir Keir ‘will resign’ if guilty of breaching lockdown rules

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer: praying he’ll be cleared

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he will resign if he is found guilty of breaching lockdown rules last year.

Sir Keir issued a statement in which he effectively gambled his career on being cleared over the allegations that he was caught drinking beer with colleagues at an event in Durham.

In a statement issued after several hours spent with his advisers deciding how to deal with the crisis, he said: “I’ve always followed the rules” since the start of lockdown, adding that he “isolated six times” during lockdown.

“The idea that I would then casually break those rules is wrong, and frankly I don’t believe those accusing me believe it themselves. They are just trying to feed cynicism, so the public to believe all politicians are the same.

“I am absolutely clear that no laws were broken. They were followed at all times. I simply had something to eat whilst working late in the evening, as any politician would do days before an election.”

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He added, however, that “if the police decide to issue me with a fixed penalty notice I would of course do the right thing, and step down.”

Sir Keir has found himself under mounting pressure after he called on the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign for being investigated by police.

The Labour leader, who is a former he is a former director of public prosecutions, insisted his stance was a “matter of principle”, and that he was “very different” to the Prime Minister. He repeatedly said the accusations of rule-breaking were attempts to “paint all politicians as the same”, and he was “different.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “I’ve always been clear that I was at the event in Durham working in my capacity as deputy leader and that no rules were broken.

“Eating during a long day’s work was not against the rules. We have a Prime Minister who has been found to have broken the rules, lied about it and then been fined. If I were issued with a fine, I would do the decent thing and step down.”

Durham Constabulary said on Friday it was investigating the incident despite having previously said it did not think Sir Keir had broken rules over the gathering. During the event it was reported that beer was drunk and a takeaway curry was eaten, at a time when social gatherings were banned due to coronavirus restrictions.

In a statement, the force 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 30 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.”

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