LONDON – Labor Party workers were drunk at a controversial curry and beer gathering being investigated by police over a possible breach of England’s coronavirus rules in April 2021, a person familiar with that night’s events said opposite POLITICO’s London Playbook.
Opposition leader Keir Starmer is under increasing pressure over the event he attended with his deputy Angela Rayner in Durham. The gathering, billed by the party as a work-related campaign stop, took place while most indoor socializing was illegal under COVID-19 regulations.
The suggestion that those present were drunk raises doubts as to whether the event – dubbed ‘Beergate’ by parts of the British media – was reasonably necessary for campaign purposes, as required by law.
A Labor Party spokesman said: “Keir worked, a snack was provided in the kitchen and he ate between work demands. No rules were broken.”
However, the person familiar with the event told Playbook that some junior staff in attendance “were pissed off and obviously not working, so I remember thinking, why are they here?”
They said no work was done during or after the curry, which was ordered from a local takeaway, and that the event had therefore “crossed the line” and violated COVID laws.
They added, “It was after nine on a Friday night and some people were drinking … Of course it crossed the line.”
The head of the opposition office (LOTO) and the Labor Party did not deny the allegation when given multiple opportunities to do so by Playbook.
Mary Foy, the Labor MP in whose office the events took place and whose staff were present, did not respond to a request for comment.
The person said they were willing to speak to Durham Police if they were approached. Police said Friday they were investigating the gathering for a possible violation of COVID-19 lockdown rules.
Starmer, who has urged Boris Johnson to resign after the British Prime Minister was fined for breaking COVID-19 rules, pulled out of a scheduled appearance at a think tank in Westminster on Monday.
But Labor Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said Sunday night Starmer should not have to resign if he is fined over Beergate.
When asked by POLITICO during a visit to New York whether Starmer should resign if he is fined, Khan said: “No. Unfortunately, the last time I checked Keir Starmer wasn’t the Prime Minister or the Chancellor. Why is the British public angry? … The anger is because those who made those rules broke them.”
Khan added that the allegations against Starmer were “a million miles removed” from the “rule-breaking culture at Downing Street”.
He added: “The worst-case scenario is for Keir Starmer to have a beer with his curry at the end of a hard day’s work. Compare and contrast with our PM who made the rules and has a record of breaking the rules.”
https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-labour-staff-drunk-beergate-gathering-probe-police-keir-starmer/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication British Labor staff 'drunk' at 'Beergate' meeting under police investigation - POLITICO