Keir Starmer's Beergate story unravelled by leaked memo
A leaked document reveals the curry enjoyed by the Labour leader and colleagues in April 2021 was planned in advance on the schedule for the day's campaigning
Sir Keir Starmer faces further criticism after a secret Labour Party document has revealed the 'beergate' gathering was planned in advance.
The 'private and confidential' note, published by the Mail on Sunday, appears to contradict the Labour leader's version of events of his visit to Durham.
This comes after Sir Keir said he is “confident” that he did not breach lockdown rules by having a beer and curry at a campaign event.
A leaked memo indicated that the dinner in Durham had been planned on the schedule for Sir Keir’s day of campaigning in April 2021.
The document states that there would be a “dinner in Miners Hall” with City of Durham MP Mary Foy from 8.40pm to 10pm – and a note indicates 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 is for Sir Keir to walk back to his hotel – he has 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”.
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly accused Starmer of “hypocrisy and dishonesty” over the beergate row.
Mr 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.”
A spokesman for the Leader of the Opposition’s office said: “Keir was working, a takeaway was made available in the kitchen, and he ate between work demands. No rules were broken.”
The leaked note also makes reference to 'AR' alongside 'KS'. The acronyms for Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer stand to further chip away at the Labour Party alleging it made an "honest mistake" when denying the Deputy Leader attended the event.
The Labour leader refuted the claims after Durham Constabulary confirmed it was investigating claims an evening event attended by the Labour leader with other senior party figures and activists last year might have broken pandemic social distancing regulations.
But Sir Keir said: “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.”
Timings for events frequently slip during a campaign and on the day of the curry the takeaway was late, a source said.
Speaking during a visit to Scotland, the Labour leader said: “The police have obviously got to do their job but meanwhile I am here in Scotland because we have had a fantastic set of results.”
He also said that while he has called for Prime Minster Boris Johnson to quit after he was fined for attending a party at Westminster during lockdown, he would not be resigning.
Instead he said he was focused on the next general election after his party “did really well” in the local elections.
Asked if he would be the person leading the party into the next Westminster election campaign, Sir Keir said: “I will be taking them into that general election, I am really pleased.”
His comments came after he was accused of hypocrisy by Tories, with cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi questioning why Sir Keir was not resigning after the Labour leader had called for Mr Johnson to quit while under investigation over the No 10 partygate row.