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Tories slam Starmer 'hypocrisy' after leaked memo reveals 'Beergate bash' was pre-planned
8 May 2022, 07:51 | Updated: 8 May 2022, 11:08
Sir Keir Starmer has been accused of being a "hypocrite and a liar" by senior Tories after a leaked memo demolished the Labour leader's 'Beergate' story showing his £200 curry takeaway was planned in advance.
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The Labour leader has insisted he did not break coronavirus lockdown laws by having a beer and curry at a campaign event in April 2021, and has pledged to lead the party into the next general election.
Sir Keir was pictured drinking a beer at a work meeting in Durham last April, which he says was with a meal during a break from work.
Labour claims the meal wasn't a social event and Sir Kier was working before and after it.
However, a leaked memo has revealed the takeaway in Durham had been planned as part of his itinerary for the day of campaigning in April 2021 and, no further work was scheduled after the dinner.
Police in Durham confirmed on Friday they are investigating the event in light of the Partygate scandal, after previously saying it did not breach coronavirus laws.
At the time of the gathering, non-essential retail and outdoor venues including pub gardens were open but social distancing rules, which included a ban on indoor mixing between households, remained in place.
The leaked memo, published by the Mail on Sunday, indicated that the dinner in Durham had been planned on the schedule for Sir Keir's day of campaigning.
The document stated that there would be a "dinner in Miners Hall" with City of Durham MP Mary Foy from 8.40pm to 10pm - and a note indicated a member of staff in Sir Keir's office was to arrange the takeaway curry from the Spice Lounge.
The only business listed after the dinner was for him to walk back to his hotel.
Separately, a source who was present told the Sunday Times: "It has been claimed that Starmer worked during the curry and then after the curry. None of those two things happened. He did not go back to work to the best of my knowledge."
The source said some of those present at the event with Sir Keir and deputy leader Angela Rayner were not working at all, and "were just there for a jolly".
Sir Keir previously claimed he "paused for food" and continued working after the meal, saying "the idea that nobody works at 10 o'clock at night is absurd".
He told reporters on Saturday: "As I have explained a number of times, I was working in the office, we stopped for something to eat.
"There was no party, no breach of rules, I am confident of that."
He said he would not resign and would lead Labour into the next general election.
Tory ministers have lined up to accuse Sir Keir of hypocrisy after he called for Boris Johnson to quit when he faced a Scotland Yard probe into No10 parties.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi told LBC's Andrew Castle we should wait for the police investigation to conclude, but the "hypocrisy of the way they focussed so much on parties and not on the economy, not on cost of living, is something that the public will be aware of".
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: "It was a lie. No break in a work meeting. No pieces to camera, but a pre-arranged social dinner at which Rayner, Foy, and Starmer were present."
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said: "Starmer claimed it was an impromptu curry. Turns out it was pre-planned.
"Starmer claimed nowhere served food. Turns out that loads of places did.
"(Angela) Rayner claimed she wasn't there. Turns out she was. Hypocrisy and dishonesty in equal measure."
Labour MP Diane Abbott has become the first Labour MP to say the leader may have to quit if he's fined.
She told LBC's Matt Frei Sir Keir should "consider his position" if he receives a fixed penalty notice from Durham police.
While London Mayor Sadiq Khan says "Beergate" is totally different from the Prime Minister's "Partygate".
He said: "It's a million miles away from a Prime Minister making the rules and breaking the rules. It's a million miles away from a culture of bring your own bottle, parties, garden parties, karaoke machines being used, and so forth."
In January, Sir Keir called on Boris Johnson to step down after he became embroiled in lockdown breach allegations, saying the Prime Minister "needs to do the decent thing and resign".
Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie, and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak all received fines from the Met Police for attending a lockdown breaking party on Mr Johnson's birthday in Downing Street.
Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak apologised for their actions, but have vowed to carry on and "get on with the job" at hand.