Keir Starmer has just confirmed in a press conference that he will resign if issued with a fine by Durham police over his curry and beer on the campaign trail last year. Starmer is adamant that he has broken no rules, that he merely had something to eat while working late. In his statement, Starmer said he would resign if fined as ‘the British public deserve politicians who think the rules apply to them’. In a clear attempt to draw a contrast with Boris Johnson, he said he wanted to show that not all politicians are the same.
Given how hard it was to see how Starmer could have survived as Labour leader if he had been fined, today’s move gives Starmer some control back over the situation and means he still has a way to contrast himself with Johnson on the whole partygate issue. But Starmer was not clear, despite being asked by Beth Rigby, on what he would do if Durham police said the rules had likely been breached but didn’t issue a fine given how long has passed.
Angela Rayner has made the same pledge as Starmer to resign if fined. So, Durham police now find themselves holding the fate of the Labour leader and deputy leader in their hands. Considering that they don’t do retrospective investigations normally, this does not put them in an easy position. Starmer will hope that his decision to say explicitly that he will go if fined allows him to take back control of this situation, and draw a distinction with the Prime Minister. But it will lead to an uncertain few weeks for the Labour leader.