‘From hunter to hunted!’ Starmer danger as Partygate bravado leaves ‘no escape route’

Keir Starmer announces he will step down if fined by police

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The Labour leader is being investigated over a possible breach of Covid rules, which may result in a fine, similar to the situation faced by Boris Johnson over the ‘partygate’ scandal earlier this year. Mr Johnson, standing before MPs in April, apologised “unreservedly” and “with all humility” after paying his police-issued fine.

But Sir Keir’s tactics of dealing with the police investigation leave him exposed to a different standard which threatens his political career, Joseph Robertson warned.

The director of the Orthodox Conservative Group told Express.co.uk: “Johnson set himself up pretty well here because he’s ridden the wave, he’s taken the criticism, he’s made an apology, but he’s never formally said he’s going to resign – or to appear to have any intention of doing so.

“Much as I think his position may at one stage have seemed untenable, he’s now over that hump.”

Policing minister Kit Malthouse defended the PM’s continued leadership earlier this week, saying the Labour leader’s actions were not directly tied to those of Boris Johnson.

He told LBC: “Keir Starmer has to speak for himself and set his own standards.”

Similarly, Mr Robertson argued: “I don’t think a Starmer resignation would trigger Boris, simply because they’re playing by two different rule sets.

“Starmer set himself up as the arbitrator of authority, by giving that speech calling on the PM to resign for breaking rules, which we have now seen Starmer also broke, and I think that makes his position a lot more difficult.

“He’s gone from being the hunter to the hunted and he doesn’t really have much in the way of an escape route.”

Sir Keir has promised to “do the right thing” and resign as leader of the Labour Party if he is handed a fine for breaching Covid restrictions last year by Durham Police.

The party leader was pictured at a gathering in Durham drinking beer and eating takeaway food with other party activists during a campaign trip.

Durham Police were aware of the April 30, 2021 incident at the time, but have opened a new investigation into whether rules were broken.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner, who also attended the event, made the same pledge.

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Sir Keir said: “If the police decide to issue me with a FPN (fixed penalty notice), I would of course do the right thing and step down.

“The British public deserve politicians who think the rules apply to them.”

He drew deliberate parallels between the ongoing investigation and Boris Johnson’s circumstances after the Prime Minister paid a fine issued by the Met Police over lockdown breaches at Downing Street.

The Labour leader said: “I stand for honour and integrity, and the belief that politics is a force for good, and we shouldn’t all be dragged down by this cynical belief that all politicians are the same.

“And I am here to make it clear that I am not the same.

“We are not all the same. I am different.”

However, Mr Robertson suggested any further revelations of rulebreaking activity under Covid lockdowns would probably not greatly impact voters’ intentions one way or another going forward.

He explained: “Right now, both sides are kind of on a level footing in terms of where they’re at with various levels of guilt in relation to rulebreaking.

“I think this is more now about how both sides can rebound. Labour are in a trickier position than they were.”

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