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By Ben Guerin
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Universities Minister Says Keir Starmer Has Shown "Sheer Hypocrisy" Over Lockdown Beer

3 min read

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan has described Keir Starmer's “relentless focus” on calling for the Prime Minister to resign over lockdown breaches after he himself was photographed with a beer during lockdown as smacking of “sheer hypocrisy”.

Speaking on Sky News on Monday, the minister said that if Starmer is found by police to have breached lockdown rules for drinking the beverage, alongside eating a takeaway with a group of Labour staff members, it is “up to him” whether he should resign as opposition leader.

On Friday Durham constabulary confirmed they will investigate whether Starmer broke lockdown regulations when he had a beer and takeaway with colleagues in the constituency office of Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy during campaign meetings last year. Starmer has repeatedly called for Boris Johnson to resign over breaches of lockdown rules in Downing Street. 

The Labour leader, who was in Durham to campaign for the Hartlepool by-election, has maintained the takeaway was eaten during a work break and therefore did not breach any rules.

“He’s going to have to search his soul after making [Downing Street lockdown breaches] a top priority over the last few months at the expense of other issues like the rising cost of living,” Donelan said.

“This is a decision for him,” she added. “My takeaway is that it does smack of sheer hypocrisy.”

The Sunday Times has reported a witness who was present at the event claimed that no work taking place after people finished eating.   

Today Starmer was due to deliver a speech at the Institute for Government, followed by a question-and-answer session with journalists.

On Friday evening it was confirmed the Labour had pulled out of the event.

Speaking on Sky News this morning, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting described accusations that Starmer broke lockdown rules as “ridiculous”.

“Are we seriously saying that Keir Starmer and his team have planned an event and planned the meal in there which they knew to be breaking the rules?” Streeting said.

“It’s perfectly reasonable to have a dinner, this is perfectly permissible within the rules.”

The shadow minister added that he has “no doubt” Starmer continued to work after eating dinner, despite an official party memo leaked to the Mail on Sunday stating dinner was the final activity on the Labour leader’s agenda for the day.

“Anyone who’s ever worked on an election campaign knows that you work late into the evening,” Streeting told Sky News.

“The police will draw their conclusions but I don’t think people around the country think Keir Starmer is the type of bloke who goes around breaking the rules and getting smashed on an election campaign.”

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