Keir Starmer branded an ‘absolute hypocrite’ for drinking with staff during lockdown

·2-min read
Sir Keir was photographed having drinks with Labour Party staff in a constituency office in Durham last May
Sir Keir was photographed having drinks with Labour Party staff in a constituency office in Durham last May

Labour is facing its own “booze row” after Conservative figures pointed out that Sir Keir Starmer had been pictured drinking a beer when the country was still under Covid restrictions.

With Boris Johnson under mounting pressure over a series of gatherings in Downing Street, the Labour leader on Wednesday claimed that the public could see he was “lying through his teeth”.

Hitting back on Thursday, a senior Tory pointed out that Sir Keir had himself been photographed drinking with a number of party staff in a constituency office in Durham last May.

The image, which was taken several days before the Hartlepool by-election, was captured through the window of the building and showed Sir Keir standing close to two other people while another pair congregated in the background.

The country was at that time in step two of the roadmap out of the third lockdown, with indoor mixing between different households prohibited except in work scenarios.

Hospitality venues were also closed indoors, with outdoor groups limited to six people or two households and required to be seated to be served food and drink.

“Sir Keir has spent the past two months criticising people for doing the exact same thing he's been doing himself,” the source said. “He is an absolute hypocrite.”

Mr Johnson also highlighted the incident last month during a row over the party-gate allegations with Sir Keir at Prime Minister's Questions, stating: “{Sir Keir] might explain why there are pictures of him quaffing beer - we have not heard him do so.”

Approached for comment, a Labour spokesman pointed back to the party’s previous statement, in which it insisted no rules had been broken.

“Keir was in the workplace, meeting a local MP in her constituency office and participating in an online Labour Party event,” the statement from the time said. “They paused for dinner as the meeting was during the evening.”

It came as Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, on Thursday ramped up the party’s attacks on Mr Johnson, claiming that he is “not fit to lick the boots of NHS staff in this country”.

The testy exchange came after Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, accused Mr Streeting of not thanking the NHS for the booster rollout.

Responding to the claim, Mr Streeting told the Commons: “I am not sure whether that is in order, but what I did say from a sedentary position was the Prime Minister is not fit to lick the boots of NHS staff in this country.”

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