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Beergate mishap leaves populace divided

Chris Hopkins Political Research Director 10/05/2022

Half say Beergate broke Covid-19 rules

Half (49%) of UK adults say that Keir Starmer broke Covid-19 rules in relation to Beergate, according to a new poll by Savanta ComRes. Just one in five (18%) say that he did not break Covid-19 rules, while a third (33%) say they do not know. The new poll comes as Starmer is expected to announce that he will resign as Labour leader if he is fined over Beergate.

Compared to Partygate, just 17% say that Beergate is worse, with a large majority (65%) of adults saying that Partygate is the worse offence, including half (53%) of 2019 Conservative voters.

The Beergate accusations relate to Keir Starmer drinking a beer indoors with Labour staff at the offices of Durham MP Mary Foy during the local election campaign in April 2021, when people couldn’t socialise outside of their household or bubble but exemptions were in place for work purposes.

But, compared to Partygate, just 17% say that Beergate is worse, with a large majority (65%) of adults saying that Partygate is the worse offence, including half (53%) of 2019 Conservative voters.

The poll also tested the salience of the events in the minds of electorate, with two in five (41%) saying that they’ve heard a lot about Beergate, compared to three quarters (74%) who have heard a lot about Partygate.

However, one in five UK adults (20%) claim to have heard a lot about a fictional ‘Hikegate’ scandal involving Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey travelling 75 miles to go for a walk in the Cotswolds during the first national lockdown.

The poll also finds that 63% say that Boris Johnson should resign over his involvement in Partygate, a figure that has remained broadly consistent since January. Just 37% say at this stage that Keir Starmer should resign, but that figure could rise as the story develops and if he is issued with a fixed penalty notice.

Commenting on the findings, Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta ComRes says,

“This poll clearly shows that Partygate is still the far greater offence in the minds of the public, which could offer some solace to Keir Starmer as he weighs up his options. However, with half of the public believing that he did, in fact, break the rules, and given how strongly he asserted that the Prime Minister should resign for Partygate, his position could be untenable by his own making if he ends up being issued with a fixed penalty notice.”

“The public’s salience for these issues is also interesting. With one in five believing they’ve heard a lot about a completely fictional lockdown breach by Ed Davey, the public clearly believe that all politicians would, in some way, have broken lockdown rules. Finding a new leader for either of the major parties with a completely squeaky clean record when it comes to following lockdown rules – given neither Johnson or Starmer claim to have knowingly broken them – could be easier said than done.”¬†

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