Sir Keir’s moralising comes back to haunt him

Sir Keir Starmer never misses an opportunity to denounce the government for its sins, real or perceived. He has repeatedly called for the Prime Minister’s resignation over the Partygate saga. He urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to do the same after he was fined by the Metropolitan Police for breaking lockdown rules. Sir Keir’s moralizing on the matter has reportedly caused unrest even among members of his shadow cabinet. They feared this would prevent Labor from speaking on issues of immediate concern to voters.

Now Sir Keir himself is embroiled in allegations of breaking coronavirus rules. The Labor leader was filmed drinking beer with colleagues in MP Mary Foy’s Durham office last year. He has repeatedly denied the story on the grounds that it was a meal break during a work event and therefore not a violation of the rules.

First, however, Labor had to admit that Angela Rayner, the vice-chairman, was also present at the event. It then emerged that a large quantity of food had been ordered from a nearby takeaway and that there may have been as many as 30 people there. Durham Constabulary announced yesterday that it had decided to investigate the gathering. The force had previously decided against an investigation but reconsidered the decision “upon receipt of important new information”.

This is serious business for the Labor leader. It is true that the police are only investigating one incident, while the Met’s inquiry relates to several alleged violations at Downing Street. Nor, as opposition leader, was he directly responsible for writing the rules he is accused of violating.

Nonetheless, he staunchly supported the government’s restrictions, occasionally even insisting that ministers go further. What’s more, it doesn’t matter that he’s unlikely to be fined given Durham’s policy of not posting them for breaching the coronavirus rules. The Labor leader seemed to see the mere fact that Boris Johnson was under investigation by the Metropolitan Police as sufficient grounds for his impeachment.

Sir Keir has sought to politically capitalize on the Prime Minister’s uneasiness, evidently believing he could contrast his own reputation for sober and serious with Mr Johnson’s more liberal outlook on life. Now he’s backed himself into a corner where almost any of his political attacks on his rivals can turn against him. Certainly, by his own logic, he has no choice but to resign. Sir Keir’s moralising comes back to haunt him

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