No proof Keir Starmer broke Covid guidelines, says shadow minister | Keir Starmer

There continues to be no proof Keir Starmer broke Covid guidelines with a beer and a takeaway meal throughout a marketing campaign go to to Durham final yr, a senior shadow minister has mentioned, saying it was “ludicrous” to counsel the Labour chief was avoiding scrutiny over the problem.

Starmer had been scheduled to attend an Institute for Government occasion on Monday however has pulled out. Wes Streeting, the shadow training secretary, mentioned he didn’t know why the choice had been made.

“No idea,” he instructed BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “And I didn’t ask before I came on because I just thought it was such a trivial issue. I do think the idea that Keir has been somehow ducking scrutiny on this is ludicrous, given he has been in front of the cameras repeatedly over the weekend.”

Labour has not mentioned why Starmer pulled out of the occasion.

The occasion in April 2021, during which Starmer was filmed inside a Durham Labour constituency workplace holding a beer whereas folks behind him carried plates of meals, was examined by native police earlier this yr, who mentioned on the time no Covid guidelines have been breached.

But following what the pressure mentioned was the receipt of “significant” new proof, Durham police introduced final week they have been trying once more at any potential offences.

It stays unclear what this proof could be, however over the weekend the Mail on Sunday revealed extracts from a Labour marketing campaign memo from the interval, which set out the timetable for Starmer’s go to, together with a scheduled time for a meal. Asked if this undermined Labour’s argument that Starmer was working amid the meal, Streeting mentioned the memo was a “standard visit plan” for such campaigns

“I don’t think anything that I saw in the memo in the Mail contradicted anything that Keir Starmer has said,” Streeting mentioned. “It was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The only thing I can do is to applaud the Mail for their ingenuity in turning a totally uncontroversial memo into something they are dropping as some kind of great revelation. I just don’t think it is.”

He continued: “I really don’t think that what we have seen, what we’re discussing, is in any way comparable with what we saw in No 10, which is why Boris Johnson was fined, and which is why the public were so angry about suitcases full of booze being wheeled in by officials. It’s just not the same thing.

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“I do think we have moral authority to criticise the government, because Boris Johnson has been fined and found guilty of wrongdoing, and Boris Johnson has been proven to have lied to the House of Commons. Keir Starmer has never denied he was in Durham, never denied he stopped for dinner. Boris Johnson denied that there were any parties in No 10.”

Streeting mentioned the very fact the memo didn’t set out particular duties to be performed by Starmer after the takeaway didn’t imply the Labour chief had, by then, stopped work. “It’s no surprise to any of us who have worked on election campaigns that you might pause for food and you go back to work, you work late,” he mentioned.

Starmer was, Streeting added, “someone of integrity, decency and honesty”, and he was “not even entertaining the prospect” of a wonderful being levied.

The universities minister, Michelle Donelan, instructed Sky News the very fact Starmer was being investigated “smacks of sheer hypocrisy given the relentless focus he has placed on Partygate”. Asked if he ought to resign if fined, she mentioned: “He’s going to have to search his soul after making this a top priority over the last few months at the expense of key issues like the rising cost of living.”

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