VENUES across the City of Durham have said that they’d have “welcomed Sir Kier with open arms,” amid the ‘beergate’ storm that has seen the Labour leader currently under investigation by Durham Police.

The Opposition leader has repeatedly denied breaking the laws in a televised statement yesterday (May 9), as he faces pressure over the curry and beer gathering at Durham Miners’ Hall last year, following an election campaign visit to the North East for last year's Hartlepool by-election.

During the address to the media, Sir Keir has committed to doing “the right thing and step down” as Labour leader if he is fined by police over an allegation he broke coronavirus laws.

Read more: Starmer commits to stepping down as Labour leader if fined by Durham Police

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.

But Labour argues the food was consumed between work events, meaning it was within the rules.

Despite the claims made by the political party, amid suggestions that it was the ‘only option’ to have a curry while in Durham during the by-election campaign, restaurants and venues in the City of Durham have now confirmed that they were open and would have “welcomed” the Labour leader if he had visited them during his time there.

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

After making enquires, The Northern Echo can confirm that thew following venues were open when Sir Kier visited the historic city, and were located no more than ten minutes from Durham Miners’ Hall; the venue that Sir Kier was in:  

  • The Kingslodge Inn
  • The Water House
  • Raddison Blu Hotel
  • The Food Pit
  • Thai River Restaurant
  • Revolution
  • Riverview Kitchen
  • The Library
  • Slug & Lettuce
  • The Boat-Club & Tomahawk Steakhouse
  • Whisky River Cocktail Bar & Café
  • The Drunken Duck
  • The Bishops’ Mill

After getting confirmation of the restaurants open, we were told by several of the business owners listed, who wished to remain anonymous, that they’d have being “delighted” to host the Labour leader during his campaign trail.

One restauranteur, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “We were open outside during this time, and we’d have accommodated Sir Kier for a meal if he would have visited.

The Northern Echo: Thirteen venues across Durham were open at the time of Sir Kier's visit. Picture: GOOGLE. Thirteen venues across Durham were open at the time of Sir Kier's visit. Picture: GOOGLE.

“There’s lots of talk about fines for him currently – something he could have avoided if he would have visited one of the restaurants in Durham.”

Alongside many comments made in Sir Kier’s conference, He accused the Conservatives accusing him of breaking lockdown rules of “trying to feed cynicism to get the public to believe all politicians are the same”.

“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,” he said, from Labour’s London headquarters.

The Northern Echo: Deputy Labour leader, Angela Rayner. Picture: PA MEDIA.Deputy Labour leader, Angela Rayner. Picture: PA MEDIA.

Angela Rayner issued a statement matching Sir Keir’s commitment and insisting she was at the event “working in my capacity as deputy leader and that no rules were broken”.

“Eating during a long day’s work was not against the rules. We have a Prime Minister who has been found to have broken the rules, lied about it and then been fined. If I were issued with a fine, I would do the decent thing and step down,” she said.

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