Now footage emerges of Sir Keir Starmer drinking a beer with staff last year when Covid rules were still in place: Tories accuse him of hypocrisy
- Keir Starmer has been a vocal critic of Boris Johnson over Number 10 party row
- Senior Tories have now claimed the Labour leader is an ‘absolute hypocrite’
- They pointed to picture of Sir Keir drinking a beer with Labour staff last year
Senior Tories have accused Sir Keir Starmer of being an ‘absolute hypocrite’ over the Downing Street party row.
Sir Keir has slammed Boris Johnson over revelations about Covid rule-busting events in Number 10 and has called on the Prime Minister to resign.
But Tory figures have criticised Sir Keir, highlighting a picture of the Labour leader from last year which appeared to show him drinking a beer while chatting to party staff indoors.
The image re-emerged as Downing Street apologised to Buckingham Palace after it emerged parties were held in Number 10 the day before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral last year.
Sir Keir has now repeated his call for Mr Johnson to quit as the Labour leader said ‘Boris Johnson should do the decent thing and resign’.
Tory figures have criticised Sir Keir, highlighting a picture of the Labour leader from last year which appeared to show him drinking a beer while chatting to party staff indoors
Sir Keir has slammed Boris Johnson over revelations about Covid rule-busting events in Number 10 and has called on the Prime Minister to resign
Step two restrictions applied in England from April 12 last year until the move to step three on May 17.
Official government guidance stated that ‘you must not socialise indoors except with your household or support bubble’.
People were allowed to meet outdoors, including in gardens, in ‘groups of six people or two households’.
Bars, pubs and restaurants were not allowed to open indoors but they could serve groups of up to six people or two households outdoors.
However, they were required to provide table service.
People were also advised to ‘work from home if you can’ during step two.
The image was captured in May 2021 when Sir Keir was visiting a Labour constituency office in Durham ahead of the Hartlepool by-election.
The image was taken through the window of the building and appeared to show Sir Keir holding a beer while speaking to two people, with two more people in the background.
England was in step two of Mr Johnson’s lockdown exit roadmap at the time which stated that indoor mixing between households was not allowed, unless it was for work.
A Tory source told The Telegraph: ‘Sir Keir has spent the past two months criticising people for doing the exact same thing he’s been doing himself. He is an absolute hypocrite.’
Mr Johnson had raised the photograph during Prime Minister’s Questions on December 15 after Sir Keir had grilled him about an alleged Christmas party in Number 10 in December 2020.
The PM said: ‘I have repeatedly answered that question before. As the right honourable and learned gentleman knows, a report is being delivered to me by the Cabinet Secretary into exactly what went on.
‘The right honourable and learned gentleman might explain why there are pictures of him quaffing beer – we have not heard him do so.’
A Labour spokesman pointed The Telegraph to the party’s previous statement relating to the photograph in which it said no rules had been broken.
The statement issued at the time said: ‘Keir was in the workplace, meeting a local MP in her constituency office and participating in an online Labour Party event.
‘They paused for dinner as the meeting was during the evening.’
The row over the photograph of Sir Keir came as Downing Street was rocked by fresh revelations about events held in Number 10.
Downing Street apologised to Buckingham Palace after it emerged parties were held the day before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April 2021.
A Downing Street official called the Palace to apologise for the latest revelations about a party on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, but aides refused to say whether Mr Johnson – who was not at the booze-fuelled event – would be speaking to the monarch personally about the issue. Pictured, one of the PM’s weekly audiences with the Queen in June last year
The government guidance as of April 2021 included clear limits on socialising indoors and outdoors
Two gatherings reportedly took place in Number 10, with the Prime Minister’s former director of communications James Slack apologising for the ‘anger and hurt’ one of the events – a leaving do held for him – had caused.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister confirmed that Number 10 had apologised to the Palace.
The spokesman said: ‘It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and Number 10 has apologised to the Palace.
‘You heard from the PM this week, he’s recognised Number 10 should be held to the highest standards, and take responsibility for things we did not get right.’
The day after the events on April 16 2021, the Queen attended her husband Philip’s funeral wearing a face mask and socially distanced from her family at Windsor Castle, in line with Covid restrictions.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said Mr Johnson was at his country residence Chequers on April 16 and had not been invited to the events.
Asked why Number 10 had apologised rather than Mr Johnson himself, his spokesman said: ‘Well, again, the Prime Minister said earlier misjudgments have been made and it’s right people apologise, as the PM did earlier this week.
‘It remains the case that I can’t prejudge the inquiry, which you know is ongoing, which has been led by Sue Gray, but we acknowledge the significant public anger, it was regrettable this took place at a time of national mourning.’
It is understood the apology had been delivered via a telephone call through official channels.
Sir Keir said that Mr Johnson should also be offering the Queen his resignation.
He said: ‘The Conservatives have let Britain down. An apology isn’t the only thing the Prime Minister should be offering the palace today.
‘Boris Johnson should do the decent thing and resign.’
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