Starmer Repeats Call for Johnson to Resign Over ‘Wine-Time Fridays’

© Wikipedia / RwendlandKeir Starmer speaking at the 2020 Labour Party leadership election hustings in Bristol, Saturday 1 February 2020.
Keir Starmer speaking at the 2020 Labour Party leadership election hustings in Bristol, Saturday 1 February 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.01.2022
PM Boris Johnson's woes over revelations his Downing Street staff held Christmas and leaving leaving parties have seen the opposition Labour Party take its first serious poll lead in three years. But its demands that he resign may only usher in a more popular Tory leader.
The leader of Britain's opposition has repeated his demand for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign over claims of wine-guzzling at Number 10 during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer used a speech on health policy Saturday to the Fabian Society — one of his party's founding affiliates in 1906 — to attack Johnson over the latest press reports.
"Boris Johnson is too preoccupied defending his rule breaking, and as day follows night, when it comes to the National Health Service you can never trust the Tories." Starmer said. "We are witnessing the broken spectacle of a Prime Minister mired in deceit and deception, unable to lead."
Newspapers splashed with claims Johnson allowed staff to have alcoholic drinks in the office on Friday afternoons to "let off steam" — at a time when pubs were closed and socialising was severely limited.
Staff allegedly splashed out on a £140 drinks fridge and sent one of their number to the Co-op supermarket in The Strand — around half a mile away — to bring back a suitcase full of wine.
"What we've now got to is a situation where you have a prime minister who has lost the moral authority to lead," Starmer told reporters. "And just when you need, because we are not out of the pandemic, a government that has that moral authority to lead, we've lost it with this prime minister."
He admitted that replacing Johnson with Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak or Foreign Secretary Liz Truss would give the Tories a boost in the polls at Labour's expense.
"Of course there is a party advantage in him going," Starmer said. "But actually it is now in the national interest that he goes, so it is very important now that the Tory Party does what it needs to do and gets rid of him."
The main thrust of Starmer's speech was a pledge to spend more on the National Health Service when Labour is next in government — with ambitious pledges to cut waiting times for treatment to just a month.
“As we repair and strengthen, we need to learn to live with COVID., so that people can live their lives as normal supported by a strong health care system,” he said.
However, Labour opposed the government's rise in National Insurance — the UK's social security tax — to pay for increased NHS funding to clear the backlog of cases built up as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Starmer has also been accused of hypocrisy after media released video of him drinking with staff and a fellow MP at her County Durham office in May 2020.
"Keir Starmer was in the workplace, meeting a local MP in her constituency office and participating in an online Labour Party event. They paused for food as the meeting was during the evening. No rules were broken," a Labour spokesperson said — an eerie echo of Johnson's excuses after a photo emerged of staff drinking in the Downing Street garden the same month.
Tory London Assembly member Tony Devenish said voters in west London were not impressed by the opposition party's explanation.
And Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson jointed the swelling ranks of those arguing public outrage was driven by the sense that the lockdown rules — which the opposition supported more fervently than the government benches — were unjustifiably harsh.
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