Boris Johnson’s photo is a ‘smoking gun’ says Sadiq Khan
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Images emerged last night of the Prime Minister raising a glass at a leaving party in Downing Street during the second coronavirus lockdown. The pictures, shared with TV News, showed Mr Johnson standing next to a table covered in bottles of alcohol and snacks and drinking with at least eight others.
Sir Keir Starmer has not issued a single statement, video clip, or even a social media message since the pictures emerged.
The Labour leader has repeatedly criticised his opposite number for breaking the law during the pandemic but is nowhere to be seen since last night.
Sir Keir finds himself in a tight spot after Durham police launched an investigation into whether he broke lockdown rules in April 2021.
There is video footage, and it clearly shows the MP drinking alcohol with colleagues indoors when it was against the law.
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Curry and beers were shared by colleagues during the lead up to the local elections.
The party has insisted the drinks were had during a break for dinner at a work event.
Sir Keir is so confident he has not broken the rules he has even gone as far as to pledge to resign if fined.
The strategy aimed to cause maximum embarrassment for Mr Johnson, who refused to quit after receiving a fixed penalty notice for the gathering for his 56th birthday in June 2020.
However, the Labour leader has declined to commit to resigning if found to have broken lockdown rules but is let off by the police without a fine.
He has suggested it would be impossible for such an outcome to come about.
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“The penalty for a Covid breach is a fixed-penalty notice, that’s a matter of law, and I’ve set out what the position is in relation to that,” he said
Sir Keir is now hamstrung by his own words.
By his own logic, given the police did not issue a fine for Mr Johnson for the November 2020 event, he did not break the law.
If he now claims the images show the Prime Minister did not follow the rules despite not being fined, he blows a huge hole in his own defence.
Labour has sent out deputy leader Angela Rayner and other frontbenchers to criticise the Prime Minister instead.
Ms Rayner is under investigation for rule-breaking too, but pictures of her at the event in Durham with Sir Keir appear far less damning.
Sir Keir won’t be able to stay silent forever, he has to face the Prime Minister at PMQs in the Commons tomorrow and also respond to Mr Johnson’s statement on the Sue Gray report when it is published.
But whatever he says, it will be without the impact it may once have had. Sir Keir is damaged by his own actions.
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