SIR Keir Starmer is understood to be considering whether to commit to resigning if police find he broke coronavirus rules as he battles to regain the political initiative while pressuring Boris Johnson over his own fine.

The Labour leader is understood to be in talks today about whether to announce the pledge, after pulling out of a scheduled event where he would have faced fresh questions, as reported by The Times.

Allies insisted he was not “ducking scrutiny” by pulling out of the discussion, as he is investigated by police over the Durham beer-and-curry gathering in April last year.

Read more: Keir Starmer ‘not ducking scrutiny’ over Covid questions, ally insists

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting defended the Labour leader against what he described as Tory mud-slinging but admitted he had “no idea” why Sir Keir cancelled Monday’s event.

Labour has not given an explanation as to why Sir Keir’s attendance at the Institute for Government discussion was cancelled, other than to say “plans change”.

Labour insists the food was consumed between work events, meaning it was within the rules despite the ban on indoor socialising.

But the Labour leader was facing calls to answer fresh questions after a leaked memo suggested the takeaway was planned, with no further work apparently scheduled after dinner.

The Northern Echo: Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer. Picture: PA MEDIA.Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer. Picture: PA MEDIA.

Asked about why Sir Keir scrapped his appearance, Mr Streeting told BBC Breakfast: “I have no idea why he cancelled the event and I certainly didn’t ask before I came on because I think it’s such a trivial issue.

“The idea that Keir has been dodging questions… I mean he’s been out all weekend, even after a local election campaign where we did very well, he’s been out thanking Labour teams, particularly in the places that we did particularly well in these elections.”

Mr Streeting added that Sir Keir has faced journalists “wherever he’s been”, including as recently as Saturday, adding: “The idea that Keir is somehow ducking scrutiny is simply not true.”

The Northern Echo: Labour's Wes Streeting. Picture: PA MEDIA.Labour's Wes Streeting. Picture: PA MEDIA.

Conservative universities minister Michelle Donelan accused Sir Keir of hypocrisy, having pressured Boris Johnson over Downing Street lockdown breaches, for which the Prime Minister was fined by police.

Asked if the Labour leader should resign if fined, she told Sky News: “I think this is a decision for him, he’s going to have to search his soul after making this a top priority over the last few months at the expense of key issues like the rising cost of living, etc, but look, this is a decision for him.

“My takeaway is that it does smack of sheer hypocrisy.”

Some 46% of Britons believe Sir Keir should resign if he is fined by police, according to a YouGov survey of 1,674 adults over the weekend.

The Northern Echo: A graphic of the opinion polls on political parties across the UK. Picture: PA MEDIA.A graphic of the opinion polls on political parties across the UK. Picture: PA MEDIA.

That includes 48% of those who voted Labour at the last election, which is higher than those who voted Tory, at 40%.

With the police investigation ongoing, 54% responded that Sir Keir either probably or definitely broke the rules.

Labour MP Mary Foy denied reports that staff were drunk at the event held in the City of Durham MP’s constituency office.

In a statement, she said: “These allegations about my staff are untrue.

The Northern Echo: City of Durham MP, Mary Kelly Foy. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.City of Durham MP, Mary Kelly Foy. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.

“I have already said that I and my team were working during a very busy period, including facilitating the leader’s visit. I do not believe either I or my office staff broke any rules.”

At the time of the Durham gathering, non-essential retail and outdoor venues including pub gardens were open, but social distancing rules – which included a ban on indoor mixing between households – remained in place.

Sir Keir previously said no restaurants or pubs were open at the time of the alleged breach so “if you didn’t get a takeaway then our team wasn’t eating that evening”.

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