Wednesday, May 4, 2022

How Keir Starmer’s lockdown beer differs from Boris Johnson’s party against Covid rules

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The Labor leader is facing mounting questions about his beer consumption during last year’s lockdown, with Conservatives claiming he falls in the same category as Partygate

The Labor leader has insisted he has not broken any Covid rules, claiming the constant questions about his actions from Conservatives are simply “mud-slinging”.

Sir Keir Starmer has repeatedly refused to say whether Durham Police had been contacted again over pictures of him having a beer during lockdown in April last year.

Sir Keir said he would work with Durham Police if they got in touch with him again, but insisted no Covid regulations had been breached.

here I takes a look at what “Beergate” – as it’s also called – is all about.

In January this year, pictures emerged of Sir Keir having a pint during the Hartlepool by-election campaign on April 30, 2021. At the time England was subject to ‘level 2’ Covid regulations, which prohibited anyone from socializing ‘except with your household or support bubble’.

The Labor leader claims it was a “work event” that the picture and subsequent video were taken while he and the rest of his campaign team were taking a break from work at Durham City MP Mary Foy’s office. Sir Keir said: “We were busy, we took a break to eat… there was no partying, no rules were broken, that’s the long and short of it.”

The Conservatives, led by Tory MP for North West Durham Richard Holden, have called on police to re-investigate the incident after Boris Johnson was fined for attending a “birthday party” in the Cabinet Room during the first lockdown of 2020 had been occupied.

Mr Johnson said he was due to attend a meeting when he was surprised with a birthday cake, while Rishi Sunak was also fined for showing up early to the scheduled meeting and not knowing a birthday party was planned. Tory MPs claim Sir Keir’s split falls into the same category.

At first glance, there appears to be little between the two breaches, despite them occurring under different suspensions almost a year apart. Both Mr Johnson and Sir Keir said they were at work and both said the issue relates to when they took breaks from their work which allowed for food and drink consumption, although question marks over its presence stay away from alcohol.

But the key difference is that it’s harder to prove Sir Keir wasn’t just taking a break from work, as he points out, while it’s hard to imagine a pre-arranged birthday party with cake was anything but a social one collect.

Quite possible in the short term. The Labor leader has cracked down on the ‘Partygate’ scandal despite Labor fears he will simply turn voters away from all politicians.

He’s since changed course and focused more on the cost of living, but questions keep returning to ‘Beergate’ and he’s inexplicably failed to draw a line under it as police have no interest in pursuing it any further.

However, should the Prime Minister impose further fines in the coming weeks, any questions about Covid rulebreaking are likely to be directed to Mr Johnson rather than Sir Keir Starmer.

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