Keir Starmer has made a dramatic offer to resign as Labour leader if he is fined by Durham police over a beer and curry gathering in a party office during last year’s lockdown.
The Labour leader turned the tables on Boris Johnson over the so-called ‘beergate’ claims by publicly offering to stand down as leader of the Opposition if he is issued with a fixed penalty notice by police.
At a press conference on Monday, Starmer said: “The idea that I would casually break these rules is wrong. “
“I believe in honour, integrity and the principle that those who make the laws must follow them.”
“I am absolutely clear that no laws were broken. I simply had something to eat while working late in the evening, as any politician would do days before an election campaign.”
“But if police decide to issue me with a fixed penalty notice, I would, of course, do the right thing and step down.”
He added: “This matters because the public deserve politicians who think the rules apply to them, who hold the rules to the highest standards and put the country first rather than themselves. They will always get that from me.”
The high risk move from a normally cautious Starmer immediately heaped pressure on Johnson after Tory MPs and right-wing papers demanded Durham police re-investigate the so-called ‘beergate’ claims.
Starmer has called on the Prime Minister to quit after he was issued with a fixed penalty notice for attending a birthday party in the Cabinet Office in June 2020.
Starmer has repeatedly insisted that no rules were broken because the meal took place during a work meeting, and that he and his staff went back to work again afterwards.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, echoed Starmer’s words in a statement and said she too would resign from her post if she was issued with a fixed penalty notice.
Labour officials initially denied Rayner had been present at the event but corrected the record after what they described as “crossed wires” on communications.
Although Durham Police previously said they believed no offence was committed, the case has now been reopened following repeated calls from the Conservative Party.
Labour insists the food was consumed between work events during their leader’s visit to Durham in April 2021, meaning it was within the rules despite the ban on indoor socialising.
In the past Durham police said its general approach was not to issue retrospective fines over lockdown breaches.
In the case of Dominic Cumming’s trip to Barnard Castle in 2020, it instead issued a statement saying Cummings probably committed a minor breach of the rules,
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