‘How’s it different?’ Ferrari has Labour MP squirming over Starmer’s own beer snaps

Beergate: Jonathan Ashworth on difference to Partygate

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The LBC host sarcastically mocked Labour MP John Ashworth after the politician claimed the PM had uniquely “merrily toasted” an assembled crowd during former Downing Street director of communications Lee Cain’s leaving drinks. Mr Ferrari said: “I see, so ‘merrily toasting’ is the difference between the two?” Mr Ashworth then suggested that Mr Johnson was “clearly lying” when he told Parliament no rules had been broken, further distinguishing the Labour leader’s potential breach of the rules from the PM’s. 

Mr Ferrari said: “How is wine and crisps different from beer and curry in Durham?” 

Mr Ashworth said: “Well, I mean, you’ve just got to look at the pictures. There’s bottles of drink strewn all over the place.” 

Mr Ferrari responded: “Well there was beer in Durham, is that not correct?” 

Mr Ashworth then said: “Well, [Boris] is merrily toasting the assembled crowd. This is the point where we were supposed to be in full lockdown.” 

Mr Ferrari seemed dissatisfied with this answer, implying that a toast being the defining difference between the two situations was ridiculous. 

He said sarcastically: “I see. So ‘merrily toasting’ is the difference between the two?”

Mr Ashworth responded: “This is completely different to Keir Starmer’s situation in Durham where you were allowed to have work meetings with others and you were allowed to eat when you were working. 

“But of course, Boris Johnson at the dispatch box in Parliament said there was no party that day. That was clearly a lie.” 

New photographs of Johnson drinking at a leaving party in Downing Street in November 2020 were published by ITV News yesterday, reigniting opposition accusations that he breached his own COVID-19 lockdown rules.

The photographs show Johnson making a speech and raising a toast, with a glass in his hand, standing next to a table on top of which are several wine bottles.

At that time, large gatherings with people outside of your own household were banned after England had been put back into a national lockdown due to rising cases of COVID-19.

In contrast, as highlighted by Mr Ashworth, when Sir Keir was allegedly breaking lockdown rules in April 2021, during a Hartlepool by-election, households were allowed to mix indoors for work purposes. 

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When asked in Parliament in December last year about reports of a party on that date in 2020, Johnson said he was sure “the rules were followed at all times”.

But transport secretary Grant Shapps told ITV this morning that the PM had not “knowingly lied” to Parliament. 

He said: “He didn’t knowingly lie. I think what happened is he stepped into something. What is said to parliament is to the best of your knowledge, sometimes we don’t have all the facts to hand.”

Opposition Labour lawmaker Catherine West, who asked Johnson about the event in parliament, was reluctant to accept this suggestion, adding that it’s a “pretty basic” public desire to want the Prime Minister to “tell the truth”. 

She said: “It is pretty basic to want the prime minister of this country to tell the truth.”

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