Keir Starmer ally suggests he could fight for re-election as leader rather than walking away if he is forced to quit over Beergate row
- Ally of Keir Starmer suggests he could bid for re-election if fined over Beergate
- Nick Brown says he would urge Sir Keir to seek leadership again if he has to quit
- Durham Police probing Sir Keir and deputy Angela Rayner -who deny rule breach
Keir Starmer could fight for re-election as Labour leader if he is forced to quit over Beergate, according to an ally.
Veteran MP Nick Brown, who served as chief whip under Sir Keir, said he hoped his former boss will be in charge at the next general election even if he gets a fine.
Speaking on BBC Politics North over the weekend, Mr Brown suggested that if he is punished by police Sir Keir could honour his vow to resign on principle, and then simply ask the party to reinstall him in charge.
The extraordinary possibility was floated as Durham Police continue their probe into the potential lockdown breach by Sir Keir and his deputy Angela Rayner last year.
Both have denied wrongdoing but pledged to stand down if they are handed a Fixed Penalty Notice over an indoor beer and curry with aides during a campaign visit last year.
Sir Keir Starmer was filmed sipping beer at a boozy curry in Durham – an event that is now being investigated by police over alleged Covid rule-breaking
Veteran MP Nick Brown, who served as chief whip under Sir Keir, said he hoped his former boss will be in charge at the next general election even if he gets a fine
Mr Brown, who retired from the front bench in May last year, insisted he does not ‘believe for one moment’ that police will punish Sir Keir.
However, he floated the prospect that even that would not be the end of the story,
Mr Brown said: ‘I agree entirely with Keir. I think he’s done the right thing. I know him pretty well…
‘I don’t believe for one moment the police will find against him.
‘Just for the sake of the argument say they did… if they did Keir would do what he said he would do, would resign.
‘And I would be the first person urging him to seek re-election and to lead us into the next general election.’
Sir Keir could be helped in a bid for survival by the fact that his main rival, Ms Rayner, has also been caught up in the Beergate scandal.
Both have flatly denied that the incident was against the rules. It took place when indoor gatherings were banned, apart from an exception for ‘work purposes’.
The row was fuelled because Labour initially denied that Ms Rayner was present, before admitting she had been.
The astonishing U-turn deepened the Beergate row and led to renewed questions about Labour’s account of the Friday night gathering, which it has always insisted was a ‘work event’.
Sir Keir repeatedly called for Boris Johnson to fall on his sword when he was being investigated for Partygate lockdown breaches, and after he was fined by police over a birthday gathering in the Cabinet Room in June 2020.
The extraordinary possibility emerged as Durham Police continue their probe into the potential lockdown breach by Sir Keir and his deputy Angela Rayner (pictured) last year