Boris Johnson should not resign if Keir Starmer does following beergate enquiry, minister tells GB News

Malthouse on beergate
Jamie  Micklethwaite

By Jamie Micklethwaite

Published: 10/05/2022

- 08:36

Updated: 10/05/2022

- 08:38

Kit Malthouse said nobody should lose their job for breaching lockdown rules

A resignation by Sir Keir Starmer would not mean the Prime Minister should do the same, according to a Government minister, after the Labour leader said he would step down if he is fined by police over alleged lockdown rule-breaking.

Sir Keir said he would do the “right thing” if he was issued with a fixed penalty notice in relation to a gathering in Labour offices in Durham in April last year.

The move has been viewed as a huge gamble, with Sir Keir placing his future in the hands of Durham Police after it was announced last week officers would reopen an investigation into the event where he drank beer and ate curry.

The Labour party has sought to contrast Sir Keir’s actions with those of Boris Johnson, who has refused to quit after being fined by the Met Police over a gathering in No 10 in June 2020 to mark his 56th birthday.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse said a resignation by Sir Keir would not mean Boris Johnson should also step down.

Minister for Crime and policing Kit Malthouse arriving in Downing Street, London
Minister for Crime and policing Kit Malthouse arriving in Downing Street, London
Victoria Jones

Asked if the Labour leader is right to say he would step down, Mr Malthouse told GB News: “That’s a matter for him. Look, my view is that this was a very difficult situation with complicated rules that were often changing quite quickly.

“Mistakes were made and they’re acknowledged and fixed penalty notices are paid.

“I don’t see why anybody, be they so high or so humble, should lose their job.”

Labour sources are confident they can prove the Durham event was a work event and that those present were taking a break to eat while working late on preparations for the Hartlepool by-election.

The party has compiled time-stamped logs from WhatsApp chats, documents and video edits, showing they carried on working after the takeaway was delivered – continuing to 1am, The Guardian reported.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer leaves his north London home to attend the State Opening of Parliament
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer leaves his north London home to attend the State Opening of Parliament
James Manning

A party source said: “We have been totally clear that no rules were broken. We will provide documentary evidence that people were working before and after stopping to have food.”

Having repeatedly called for Mr Johnson to go for breaking the law, many at Westminster believed Sir Keir would have no choice but to fall on his sword if he was found to have done so himself.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner – who was also present – has said she too would stand down if she is fined.

One Government minister however accused Sir Keir of “attempting to pressure the police into clearing him” by making clear a fine would spell the end of his leadership.

Tech minister Chris Philp said the Labour leader’s statement was “deeply inappropriate”.

Former director of public prosecutions Lord Ken Macdonald has said suggestions that Durham Police will be pressured in their investigation of Sir Keir were “wide of the mark”.

The crossbench peer told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that’s wide of the mark, actually.

“My experience of working with the police in very sensitive cases under full glare of public and press interest was that, very quickly, you find your focus taking over and, in a sense, a sort of bloody-mindedness creeps in: ‘This is my case and I’ll decided it, thank you very much, without any help from you.’

“So, that sort of pressure actually becomes, in my experience, reinforcing of independence, which I’m sure is what we want.

“I don’t think Durham Police will be troubled at all by that sort of aspect.”

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