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17th Jan 2022

Keir Starmer says he did nothing wrong after photo emerges of him drinking with staff in lockdown

Ava Evans

The Labour leader has refused to apologise for sharing a beer with staff during lockdown

Sir Keir Starmer has insisted no rules were broken after a photo emerged of him drinking with his political aides during the Spring lockdown.

Speaking on LBC Radio on Monday, the Labour leader defended the photographs, taken in an office in April 2021 in the lead-up to the May 2021 elections when indoor socialising with mixed-households was banned.

Sir Keir said he had been working late into the evening with his team ahead of the Hartlepool by-election and stopped briefly to eat dinner and drink a beer. The picture shows around five staff in City of Durham MP Mary Foy’s constituency office.

For the second day running, The Daily Mail has run the photo on its front page, accusing Sir Keir of hypocrisy.

Sir Keir said sharing a takeaway beer with staff was “a million miles away” from having a garden party at Number 10, as Boris Johnson did.

Sir Keir has insisted he stayed within the guidelines, which permitted mixing households solely for the purposes of work. “We were working, a takeaway turned up, and we stopped to eat it,” he told LBC. “We didn’t break any rules, we did nothing wrong.”

One caller to the radio station accused the Labour leader of being a “hypocrite” and “misleading the country” over the image.

“It’s like listening to Boris Johnson without the harrumphing,” they said.

The Prime Minister is facing mounting pressure after Labour and a number of his own backbenchers accused him of being unfit to lead. This week, a number of Tory MPs are said to be prepared to demand his resignation over allegations of a party culture in Westminster while coronavirus restrictions were in place.

The Labour leader told LBC it was in the “national interest” that Johnson vacate office and that “Britain is paralysed by the weakness of the Prime Minister”.

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