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Universities Minister Michelle Donelan has described Keir Starmer’s “relentless focus” on asking the Prime Minister to resign for breaching the lockdown after he himself was photographed with a beer during the lockdown as “sheer hypocrisy”.
Speaking on Sky News on Monday, the minister said if police find Starmer broke lockdown rules for drinking, in addition to eating a takeaway with a group of Labor staff, it would It is “up to him” whether he should resign as Leader of the Opposition.
Durham Constabulary confirmed on Friday they would investigate whether Starmer broke lockdown rules when he had a beer and takeaway with colleagues at Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy’s constituency office during campaign meetings last year. Starmer has repeatedly called on Boris Johnson to resign for breaching lockdown rules at Downing Street.
The Labor leader, who was in Durham campaigning for the Hartlepool by-election, argued the takeaway was eaten during a work break and therefore broke no rules.
“He’s going to have to search his soul after he’s done [Downing Street lockdown breaches] top priority over the past few months at the expense of other issues like the rising cost of living,” Donelan said.
“It’s a decision for him,” she added. “What I take away is that this smacks of pure hypocrisy.”
The Sunday Times reported that a witness who was present at the event claimed that no work took place after people finished eating.
Today, Starmer was scheduled to deliver a speech at the Institute for Government, followed by a Q&A with reporters.
On Friday night it was confirmed that the Labor Party had pulled out of the event.
Speaking on Sky News this morning, Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting called accusations that Starmer broke lockdown rules “ridiculous”.
“Are we seriously saying that Keir Starmer and his team planned an event and planned the meal there that they knew was breaking the rules? said Streeting.
“It’s perfectly reasonable to have dinner, it’s perfectly permitted under the rules.”
The shadow minister added he had ‘no doubt’ Starmer continued to work after having dinner, despite an official party memo leaked to the Mail on Sunday stating that dinner was the last item on the Labor leader’s agenda for the day.
“Anyone who has ever worked on an election campaign knows you work late into the evening,” Streeting told Sky News.
“Police will come to their conclusions, but I don’t think people across the country think Keir Starmer is the kind of guy who breaks the rules and gets run over on an election campaign.”
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