Beergate: Labour denies Keir Starmer broke lockdown rules after memo leaked
Beergate is a 'desperate smear', says Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy
The Labour Party has rejected claims that a leaked memo undermines Sir Keir Starmer's claim that no lockdown rules were broken during his visit to Durham last year.
A Labour document published by the Mail on Sunday shows that an 80-minute dinner with Labour MP Mary Foy was pre-planned as part of Starmer's schedule in April 2021.
A member of staff in his office was to arrange a takeaway from the Spice Lounge, a note in the document indicates.
The leaked memo comes after Durham Police confirmed they would reopen their investigation into Starmer's potential breach of Covid rules on Friday. At the time of the trip, when Starmer was filmed drinking beer in a room in Durham during the local election campaign - household mixing indoors, apart from working, was banned.
Labour continues to deny claims that their leader broke the rules.
A spokesperson for Starmer's office said: “Keir was working, a takeaway was made available in the kitchen, and he ate between work demands. No rules were broken.”
Sir Keir Starmer is "Mr Rules" and self-isolated "six times" during the COVID pandemic, says shadow levelling up secretary @LisaNandy, adding that she's "absolutely confident" the Labour leader did not break lockdown rules.#Ridge https://t.co/77wdk4xqYk pic.twitter.com/u8ZgIaXOmV
— Sophy Ridge on Sunday & The Take (@RidgeOnSunday) May 8, 2022
Labour's Lisa Nandy said 'Beergate' is a “desperate” smear of the Labour leader.
Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, she said: "It is frankly absurd of the Tories to claim that this in any way equates to a Prime Minister who was under investigation by the police for 12 separate gatherings which included karaoke parties, bring your own bottle parties, pub quizzes, suitcases full of wine being smuggled through the back door."
Nandy has so far refused to say if Starmer should resign if found to have broken the law. On Saturday, former shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, became the first Labour MP to publicly say he may have to step down if he is fined over the incident.
Starmer has repeatedly claimed that the meal, at which he was pictured drinking beer, did not break lockdown rules because he was eating in the course of work, and not attending a social event.
But according to the leaked schedule, he was due to return to his hotel after he had eaten.
And an unnamed source who was present at the gathering told The Sunday Times that Starmer didn't return to work after his meal. The source said that Foy and her staff weren't there for work purposes but were "just getting pissed".
The source said: “Mary Foy and her staff were not working and I have not got a problem telling that to the police. They were just getting pissed. They were just there for a jolly."
Members of the Conservative party are now accusing Starmer of being a hypocrite, given that he called for the Prime Minister to resign when police opened an investigation into his lockdown breaches at Downing Street.
On Saturday, Cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi told Times Radio: "We’ve got to let the police carry out their investigation and that’s only right and responsible. I do think, though, that the public will be uncomfortable with the hypocrisy. I think he’s used one in three of his Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) to talk about parties instead of focusing on the cost of living. He has tweeted himself saying that if you’re under investigation, a criminal investigation, then you should resign."
“The public will be uncomfortable with the hypocrisy.”
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi talks to @Kaitborsay and @Jennykleeman on #TimesRadio about investigations into Keir Starmer reportedly breaking lockdown rules. pic.twitter.com/DwKmnun80n
— Times Radio (@TimesRadio) May 7, 2022
The Tories are arguing that the memo is evidence the meal breached lockdown rules because it shows the meal was pre-arranged with times and was not a spontaneous decision as a result of work running in the evening - something which Starmer has previously implied.
"We were working in the office, we stopped for something to eat, no party, no breach of the rules," Starmer told Sky News on Friday, "The police obviously have their job to do and we should let them get on with it but I'm confident no rules were broken."
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