Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Keir Starmer should ‘reconsider his position’ if he is fined over Beergate, says Diane Abbott

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The Corbyn ally suggested Sir Keir’s leadership would be untenable if he were fined by the police

The Labor leader, a former chief prosecutor, faces a police probe over photos showing him drinking curry and beer with colleagues in April 2021.

Sir Keir Starmer will have to “reconsider” his position as leader of the Labor Party if police fine him for breaking Covid lockdown rules, Diane Abbott has said.

Images of the Labor leader drinking with party activists at the event first surfaced in January but were then released by police.

The force were pleased with Sir Keir’s explanation that all rules were being followed and he had stopped work to eat and drink while he worked on the Hartlepool by-election campaign on 30 April.

Back then, people in England were forbidden to mingle indoors except for work.

But after a sustained campaign by local Tory MPs and continued media coverage, Durham Police on Friday announced they were investigating the claims.

They said officers should have made the decision to open the case after receiving “significant new information.”

Sir Keir has so far dropped the inquiry and said he did not believe the event broke the rules.

His allies echoed that message, with Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting telling the BBC he had “absolute faith and confidence” that Sir had done nothing wrong.

But Ms Abbott, a former shadow Home Secretary and Jeremy Corbyn ally, has struck a different tact, suggesting the Labor leader would have to “reconsider his position” if police fined him.

“I think if he actually gets a fixed penalty then he really needs to reconsider his position,” she told LBC.

“I don’t think he’s going to do that, I think that’s a lot of hype built up by the Tory press but if he were to get a firm penalty order he would have to reconsider his position.”

But the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP denied she was implying Sir Keir to step down.

“He should think about his position and decide what’s best,” she said. “And only if he actually gets a fine! That’s just logical.”

Earlier, Mr Corbyn had refused to be advised whether his successor should resign if he is found to be breaking Covid rules.

He said that while the police investigation was a “very serious development,” he did not want to prejudge a police investigation.

Tory MPs have lashed out at Sir Keir, accusing him of “hypocrisy” after he repeatedly urged Boris Johnson to resign over investigations into the Downing Street party scandal.

Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi told Times Radio: “We must let the police conduct their investigations and that is only right and responsible.

“However, I think the public will be uncomfortable with the hypocrisy. I think he used every third of his PMQs to talk about parties instead of focusing on the cost of living.

“He tweeted himself and said that if you are under investigation, a criminal investigation, you should resign.”

Sir Keir has claimed no rules were broken and the photo showed a brief refreshment break mid-campaign.

He told Sky News: “We were working in the office, we stopped for food, no party, no breaking 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 have been broken.”

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