Starmer promises to resign as Labour leader if fined for breaking lockdown rules

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said she would also resign if she is issued with a fine

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer making a statement at Labour Party headquarters in London. He said he will do the ‘right thing’ and step down if he is fined by police for breaking Covid regulations. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Keir Starmer has promised to resign as Labour leader if he is fined for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules during a campaign event in April last year. Durham police said last Friday that they had reopened an investigation into the incident during which Sir Keir ate curry and drank beer with campaign workers.

In a brief statement before three journalists at Labour headquarters on Monday afternoon, Sir Keir said he did not break lockdown rules, but he said he would step down if the police issued him with a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

And he drew a contrast with his pledge and the behaviour of Boris Johnson, who has refused to resign despite being fined for breaking the rules at a gathering in Downing Street.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner, who was also present at the event under investigation, said that she too would resign if she is issued with a fine.

Under the party’s rules candidates to succeed them would need the support of at least 40 MPs and either 5 per cent of affiliated groups such as trade unions or 5 per cent of constituency parties before going to a ballot of the entire membership.


An initial investigation by Durham police found that the event last April did not break lockdown rules but the Conservative party, the Daily Mail and the Sun revived the story ahead of last week's local elections. Last Friday the police said they had received new information that justified reopening their investigation into the visit to the office of local MP Mary Foy.

“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,” Sir Keir said.

“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.”

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times