British Opposition Leader Keir Starmer pledged on Monday to resign if he, like Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is fined for breaking anti-COVID rules by sharing beers and curry with a team from his party.
• Read also: Parties during confinement: Boris Johnson sanctioned
• Read also: Boris Johnson wants to turn the page on COVID
• Read also: Taken to task, the leader of the British opposition exfiltrated by the police
The one who has constantly called for the departure of the head of government in recent weeks now finds himself threatened, two years after having taken over the reins of the Labor Party, then weakened by a historic defeat, and initiated a refocusing. His fate hangs on a police investigation, opened just as he recorded his first significant electoral successes.
“I am absolutely clear on the fact that no law has been violated,” hammered the Labor leader to the press.
“But if the police decide to fine me, of course, I will do what needs to be done and I will resign,” he said after several days of hesitation and new leaks on the “beergate “, came to compete several months of embarrassing “partygate” for power.
The contentious grouping dates back to April 2021 and took place in Durham, in the north-east of England, when the leader of Labor was campaigning for a partial legislative vote.
Indoor gatherings were prohibited, but Keir Starmer had explained that he had ordered curry and beers for the team gathered that evening in party premises, the only alternative according to him to closed restaurants.
The police had already looked into this meal of about thirty people and concluded that “no offense had been established”, but many details have since emerged in the press, in particular the tabloid Daily Mail which devoted several front pages in recent days.
Its latest Sunday edition still published an internal memo about Mr Starmer’s diary on the day dinner appeared, suggesting it was arranged in advance.
“If I have to receive a fine, I will do the right thing and I will resign”, also indicated in a press release the number two of the party, Angela Rayner, present at the rally.
The announcement of the opening of an investigation on Friday spoiled the party for Labour, the day after local elections in which Boris Johnson’s Tories suffered huge setbacks, undermined by scandals and soaring prices .
It also puts Mr. Starmer in a delicate position, he who has repeatedly called on the Prime Minister to resign as part of the scandal of parties organized in Downing Street during the confinements.
Boris Johnson was fined for a brief appearance at a surprise birthday party for his 56th birthday on June 19, 2020. According to British press reports, the prime minister attended at least five of the dozen other rallies on which police in London is still investigating.
At the announcement of the opening of an investigation targeting Boris Johnson, Keir Starmer had evoked a “mark of shame” and called on the Prime Minister to resign.
Boris Johnson “has been found guilty of breaking the law. I think there are now over 50 fines in connection with Downing Street. And the Prime Minister has not resigned. He and others within his party want the public to think we are all the same. I am here to show that this is not the case,” said Keir Starmer on Monday.
Britain’s first incumbent head of government sanctioned for breaking the law, Mr Johnson repeated his “unreserved” apologies, but never mentioned the possibility of leaving his post.