Britain’s main opposition leader Keir Starmer said Monday that he would step down if fined by the police for “having beer and food with colleagues” while the country was under strict pandemic during the COVID-19.
Labor Party leader Starmer has acknowledged having a takeout curry and a beer in a lawmaker’s office in northeast England in April 2021. Starmer insisted the meal, which took place during campaigning for a special election, was part of a workday and broke no rules.
After days of headlines about the story in Conservative-supporting newspapers, the local police force has said it will investigate. Starmer said Monday he was “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,” he said. “But if the police decide to issue me with a fixed penalty notice I would, of course, do the right thing and step down.”
Starmer accused those attacking him of “trying to feed cynicism, so the public to believe all politicians are the same.”
Conservatives accuse Starmer of hypocrisy because he has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign over lockdown-breaching in government offices. Police fined Johnson 50 pounds ($62) for attending his own surprise birthday party at 10 Downing Street in June 2020 when lockdown rules barred social gatherings.
Johnson has apologized but denies intentionally breaking the rules. He faces the possibility of more fines over other parties and a legal investigation into whether he misled lawmakers about his behavior.