Starmer says if he is fined by police ‘I would of course do the right thing and step down’
Full text of Starmer’s statement offering to resign if fined for breaching lockdown rules
Here is the full text of Keir Starmer’s opening statement.
Ever since the first Covid lockdown I have always followed the rules.
People were left desperately lonely. They were separated from family and friends. Tragically, many were unable to see dying loved ones. This was a collective sacrifice. People were entitled to expect that politicians would follow the same rules as everyone else.
When my mother-in-law passed away suddenly just before the first lockdown, my wife and I were unable to provide her father the support we wanted afterwards because we followed the rules.
Barely a day has passed where we haven’t agonised over that decision. But we did it, because we followed the rules.
We all found following those rules frustrating at times, I’m no exception to that. I had to isolate six times during Covid, pulling me away from my work and the things I love. But I did it, because we followed the rules.
The idea that I would then casually break those rules is wrong, and frankly I don’t believe those accusing me believe it themselves. They are just trying to feed cynicism, so the public to believe all politicians are the same.
But I am here to say they are not. I believe in honour, integrity and the principle that those who make the laws must follow them.
And I believe that politicians who undermine that principle undermine trust in politics, undermine our democracy and undermine Britain.
I am absolutely clear that no laws were broken. They were followed at all times. I simply had something to eat whilst working late in the evening, as any politician would do days before an election.
But if the police decide to issue me with a fixed penalty notice I would, of course, do the right thing and step down.
This matters. It matters because the British public deserve politicians who think the rules apply to them. They deserve politicians who hold themselves to the highest standards, and they deserve politicians who put the country first rather than themselves. They will always get that from me.
Following the live event deputy leader Angela Rayner also says she will resign if fined over beergate
Angela Rayner, who was also at the Durham event, has also said she will resign if fined. In a statement she said:
I’ve always been clear that I was at the event in Durham working in my capacity as deputy leaader and that no rules were broken. Eating during a long day’s work was not against the rules.
We have a prime minister who has been found to have broken the rules, lied about it and then been fined. If I were issued with a fine, I would do the decent thing and step down.
The most important question came at the end of the Q&A
The get out: Durum police have said they don’t issue retrospective fines over lockdown breaches” Starmer says he will only resign if he receives a fixed penalty notice, therefore if he is found to have broken the rules and not given a fixed penalty notice, he will probably not resign, of course, if that happens, bang goes all that rhetoric about honour and decency.
Beth Rigby asked the final and probably most important question she explained: Starmer won’t commit to resigning if Durham police say he broke rules but don’t fine him. The final question is perhaps the most important one.
Q: What will you do if Durham police do not issue a fine, but if they say you broke the rules anyway
The penalty for a Covid breach is a fixed penalty. And I’ve set out what the position is in relation to that. Thank you very much.
That implies that he wouldn’t. He seems to be arguing that if the penalty for a breach of the rules is a fine, then if he does not get a fine, he has not broken the rules.
If Durham police were to fine Keir Starmer for a breach of lockdown rules, then the case for his resignation would be clear, because he said Boris Johnson should resign when he was fined. Starmer is expected to acknowledge that this afternoon.
But, in the past Durham police said its general approach was not to issue retrospective fines over lockdown breaches. In the case of Dominic Cumming’s trip to Barnard Castle in 2020, it instead issued a statement saying Cummings probably committed minor breach of the rules. This is what it said:
Durham constabulary have examined the circumstances surrounding the journey to Barnard Castle (including ANPR [automatic number plate recognition], witness evidence and a review of Mr Cummings’ press conference on 25 May 2020) and have concluded that there might have been a minor breach of the regulations that would have warranted police intervention. Durham constabulary view this as minor because there was no apparent breach of social distancing.
Had a Durham constabulary police officer stopped Mr Cummings driving to or from Barnard Castle, the officer would have spoken to him, and, having established the facts, likely advised Mr Cummings to return to the address in Durham, providing advice on the dangers of travelling during the pandemic crisis. Had this advice been accepted by Mr Cummings, no enforcement action would have been taken.
What would Starmer do if Durham police were produce a verdict like this? It would not exonerate him, but should he have to resign for what “might have been a minor breach”?
Starmer will be under pressure to clarify that point.