UK Labour leader pledges to resign if found to have broken COVID rules

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By Euronews
Leader of the British Labour Party Keir Starmer gestures as he makes his keynote speech at the annual party conference in Brighton, England
Leader of the British Labour Party Keir Starmer gestures as he makes his keynote speech at the annual party conference in Brighton, England   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alastair Grant, FILE

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer has pledged to step down if he is fined for breaking COVID-19 rules over a gathering of party officials.

The country's main opposition leader has acknowledged having a takeout curry and a beer at an MP's constituency office in northeast England in April 2021 — but denies allegations that lockdown rules were breached.

"I am absolutely clear that no laws were broken. They were followed at all times. I simply had something to eat while working late in the evening as any politician would do days before an election," said Starmer on Monday.

"But if the police decide to issue me with a fixed penalty notice I would, of course, do the right thing and step down."

Durham police recently announced that they would investigate the gathering despite carrying out an earlier assessment and determining that no offence had been established.

At the time, household mixing was banned indoors in England. Political campaigners were meant to prioritise outdoor meetings.

The guidelines also said that activities in committee rooms "should be functional and not social" ahead of the May 2021 election.

Starmer said on Monday that he always followed the rules during the COVID-19 pandemic and that he stood by his honour and integrity.

The opposition leader said his case was different from that of the prime minister, adding that Boris Johnson had not resigned after being fined for breaking COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

In mid-April, the Metropolitan Police issued a fixed penalty notice to Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson and others over a breach of COVID lockdown rules in Downing Street in 2020.

Police are still investigating other gatherings attended by Johnson and government officials that year and it is possible more fines could follow. The restrictions in force in 2020 were stricter than those in place at the time of last year's incident involving Starmer.

Additional sources • AP