'Beergate': Sir Keir Starmer says he will resign if fined for breaking COVID rules

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to offer his resignation if he is issued a fixed penalty notice for breaking COVID rules.

Sir Keir's statement came after he pulled out of a keynote speech that he was due to give today.

The Labour leader has come under pressure over an event in Durham in April 2021 with party colleagues when he was filmed having a drink and a takeaway curry was ordered.

Durham Police are now investigating the so-called "beergate" episode, prompting questions about whether Sir Keir - a fierce critic of Boris Johnson's rule breaking - should resign if found to have broken the rules.

Senior Labour figures have so far refused to be drawn on the question, with shadow health secretary Wes Streeting telling Sky News' Kay Burley that Tories were "trying to smear a decent man and pretend that Keir Starmer's behaviour is in any way comparable with Boris Johnson".

At the time of the event, COVID rules banned household mixing indoors, apart from working.

Sir Keir has said he was working and stopped to event at the time of the event.

Over the weekend a leaked memo obtained by the Mail on Sunday revealed the meal was pre-planned, in contrast to Labour's earlier claim that it was a decision on the night as "nowhere served food".

The Institute for Government think tank confirmed that Sir Keir had pulled out of its event to discuss the "challenges the country faces".

Labour did not offer an explanation as to why its party's leader was no longer attending the gathering, which was timed to precede Tuesday's Queen's Speech.

Education minister Michelle Donelan told Sky News on Monday that, if Sir Keir is fined, it was a decision for him as to whether he should step down.

But she added: "What my constituents are saying is that this whole thing smacks of sheer hypocrisy.

"He has got to search his soul after making this a top priority for the last few months at the expense of key issues like the rising cost of living."

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