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Ed Miliband insists Keir Starmer ‘did not break Covid rules’ over Beergate and laughs off ‘ridiculous’ suggestion he could seek to return as Labour leader
- Ed Miliband, who led Labour between 2010 and 2015, rules out a leadership bid
- Speculation over Sir Keir Starmer’s successor has been fuelled by Beergate
- The Labour leader has vowed to quit if he is fined over his boozy curry in Durham
Ed Miliband today dimissed a ‘ridiculous’ suggestion he could return as Labour leader if Sir Keir Starmer is forced to resign over Beergate.
Sir Keir has made a major gamble on his political future by promising to quit as head of the party, should he be fined by police for breaking Covid rules over his boozy curry in Durham last year.
The Labour leader’s dramatic decision has turbocharged speculation about who could replace him in the event he has to resign.
But Mr Miliband, who led Labour between 2010 and 2015, ruled out a return to the party’s top role.
He also insisted Sir Keir ‘did not break the rules’ when he shared beers and a takeaway with colleagues in April 2021.
Labour have repeatedly insisted the Friday night gathering at Durham Miners Hall was a ‘work event’ in the run-up to council elections and the Hartlepool by-election.
Sir Keir has also maintained he and his team only stopped for a ‘break’ to eat before resuming their duties.
At the time of the event, England was in the ‘Step 2’ rules that banned people from gathering indoors with people not from your own household.
However, there was an exemption for ‘work purposes’.
Ed Miliband, who led Labour between 2010 and 2015, ruled out a return to the party’s top role if Sir Keir is forced to resign over Beergate
Sir Keir has made a major gamble on his political future by promising to quit as Labour leader should he be fined by police for breaking Covid rules
Sir Keir shared beers and a takeaway with colleagues in April 2021, but Labour have repeatedly insisted it was a ‘work event’
Sir Keir has sought to draw a difference between his own allegations of lockdown-breaking and Boris Johnson’s Partygate scandal.
The Prime Minister has batted away calls to resign from Opposition parties and some Tory MPs after he was slapped with a police fine over his 56th birthday bash in Number 10 in June 2020.
Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, Mr Miliband defended Sir Keir over Beergate and said the Labour leader was ‘simply having some food with colleagues at work’.
‘The penalty for breaking the law is a fixed-penalty notice and I think Keir Starmer has certainly done something that Boris Johnson hasn’t done,’ the shadow secretary of state for climate change said.
“As far as I can see, if Boris Johnson gets multiple fines, he is going to cling on to office.
“Keir Starmer did not break the rules. He was simply having some food with colleagues at a work. He was working in Durham.
‘I don’t believe he is going to be fined. But if he is fined, he has to resign.”
Asked if he would consider another run for the Labour leadership, should Sir Keir have to quit, Mr Miliband added: “Don’t be ridiculous. No. And he is not going. He followed the rules.”
He also praised Sir Keir for having brought Labour back from a “terrible defeat” at the 2019 general election,
Mr Miliband pointed to the “gains across the country” at this month’s local elections, “not just Westminster and Wandsworth but Rossendale and Cumberland, right across Britain”.
He earlier revealed he had not used his position as a former party leader to offer Sir Keir advice on how to deal with the Beergate row.
Mr Miliband told Sky News: ‘I think all periods for the Leader of the Opposition are challenging, at least in my experience.
‘He doesn’t need my advice; you know, I think the thing about Keir is that the more people get to know him, the more people like what they see.
‘He is somebody of great decency, great integrity, somebody who cares deeply about this country.’
Ed Miliband insists he STILL doesn’t regret opposing military action in Syria in wake of Ukraine war
Ed Miliband today insisted he still did not regret ordering Labour MPs to vote against British military action in Syria in 2013.
The former Labour leader – who failed to back then Prime Minister David Cameron’s call for action over Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons – described how the Coalition Government had failed to set out a ‘clear plan’ for armed intervention.
It has been suggested that the West’s failure to respond to atrocities in Syria emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Crimea in 2014, ahead of his current full-scale assault on Ukraine this year.
But, asked on Sky News if he regretted his stance on Syria in the wake of the Ukraine conflict, Mr Miliband said: ‘No, I don’t.
‘Look, what I was presented with when it came to what was happening in Syria was a proposition where we would not have been getting rid of all the chemical weapons.
‘This is about the chemical weapons attack that President Assad had made; we would not be getting rid of all his chemical weapons and there was no proper plan to how we would be using British troops and where our intervention would go.
‘We made a vow after Iraq which was if we committed British troops, we would do so clear about our objectives, with a clear sense of a plan and a clear sense of how that plan would be successful.
‘Our argument to David Cameron was set out a clear plan, how this is going to work? And what it’s going to be? And then you might say it could have changed the course of the war.
‘But President Trump did actually bomb President Assad in relation to a chemical weapons attack a few years later and it did not change the course of the war.
‘So, of course what has happened in Syria is an appalling tragedy but the idea that us getting involved in another war in the Middle East would have stopped it happening I just don’t buy, I’m afraid.’