Labor denies Keir Starmer dodged lockdown beer scrutiny – UK Politics Live | Policy

Labor denies Starmer dodged beergate scrutiny as source claims curry arrived late made event against rules

Hello. We are one day away from the Queen’s Speech, but the story with the most traction in Westminster this morning is still beergate – the claim that Keir Starmer broke lockdown rules in April last year when he had a beer and a takeaway meal with Labor workers at the end of the day campaign.

Starmer was due to take part in a question and answer session at the Institute for Government today, but that was cancelled. Union sources said that log changes are to blamebut they did not give further details. West Street, the shadow health secretary, was giving interviews this morning and he said he had ‘no idea’ why the event had been cancelled; he didn’t even bother to ask, he said, because he thought it was such a trivial question. He also ridiculed the suggestion that Starmer was avoiding scrutiny.

The idea that Keir avoided the scrutiny as he went out all weekend in front of cameras to celebrate the brilliant results that we achieved in the local elections last week, you know, that he participated in an event or not, his journal changes all the time. It’s a bit neither here nor there really.

Streeting spoke like Politico’s Playbook in London released new details about what happened at the event from an unnamed source “familiar with what happened last night”. Of the various revelations that came out yesterday, probably the most incriminating was a claim from an anonymous source who was present and who told the Sunday Times that some Labor staff there were “just mad” (undermining claims that they were working). The Playbook source makes the exact same claim. (It may be the same person, though Playbook says its source believes there may be two Labor whistleblowers from the event speaking to the media.)

But the Playbook source also adds a detail that adds a new element of absurdity to the story. They say the takeaway curry was supposed to arrive while Starmer was hosting an online Zoom event for party members, but it arrived late – and that’s why a debate has erupted over whether the work was still in progress when it was consummated. The source said:

There was no work going on. There simply weren’t any. The Zoom events were over… If Curry was on time on the Zoom call, it wouldn’t have been a breach [of the lockdown rules]. But it was late and the work was finished. It was no work and there was no work after that as far as I know.

Labor insists Starmer and others were still working while they consumed the meal after the online event ended. They argue the meal was justified under lockdown rules as it was necessary for work.

Parliament is still not in session today, but we get a briefing from the lobby at 11.30am.

I try to monitor comments below the line (BTL) but it’s impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, include “Andrew” somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I try to answer questions, and if they’re of general interest, I’ll post the question and answer above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to get my attention quickly, it’s probably best to use Twitter. I’m on it @AndrewSparrow.

You can also email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com.

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