Headlines about curry and cake show just how surreal UK politics has got since Covid

Headlines about curry and cake show just how surreal UK politics has got since Covid
Keir Starmer says team was working at 'beergate' gathering
Good Morning Britain

If we told you in 2019 that the prime minister and leader of the opposition could very well end up resigning over birthday cake and a curry respectively, we’d forgive you for thinking we had lost our grip on reality.

Yet here we are in 2022 with Boris Johnson embroiled in a scandal known simply as ‘Partygate’. A series of news reports would reveal that during a national public health crisis, when a deadly virus meant UK citizens were asked to stay at home, those who made the rules seemingly broke the rules by allegedly having several parties during lockdown.

Exhausted civil servant Sue Gray was asked to investigate the scandal, and at the end of January this year, she published an ‘update’ – not the actual full report, mind – into the so-called Downing Street parties.

In scathing remarks on behaviour which was “difficult to justify”, she wrote: “At times it seems there was too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear to the public.”


And to make matters worse for the PM, this isn’t the full report, as the Metropolitan Police launched their own investigation into the parties and restricted the amount of information Ms Gray could share.

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The full report from the senior civil servant is due to be released once the Met’s investigation has concluded.

The police inquiry brings us to the subject of birthday cake, as in April, it was revealed Mr Johnson had been slapped with a fixed penalty notice for attending a birthday party in Downing Street in June 2020.

He said in a statement from Chequers: “I once again offer a full apology and in the spirit of openness and humility, I want to be completely clear about what happened on that date.

“On the day that happened to be my birthday, there was a brief gathering in the cabinet room, shortly after 2pm, lasting for less than 10 minutes – during which people I work with kindly passed on their good wishes.

“In all frankness, it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules.”

One MP even went viral for claiming Mr Johnson was simply “ambushed with a cake” – yes, really.

Then, while the Conservative leader faces an investigation by a Commons committee as to whether he misled parliament over Partygate, Sir Keir Starmer continues to be questioned over beer and a curry he had in an office in Durham in April 2021.

In February this year, a spokesperson for Durham Constabulary said: “We do not believe an offence has been established in relation to the legislation and guidance in place at that time and will therefore take no further action in relation to this matter.”

Things changed, however, when the force issued a new statement on Friday.

“Earlier this year, Durham Constabulary carried out an assessment as to whether Covid-19 regulations had been breached at a gathering in Durham City on 30 April 2021. At that time, it was concluded that no offence had been established and therefore no further action would be taken.

“Following the receipt of significant new information over recent days, Durham Constabulary has reviewed that position and now, following the conclusion of the pre-election period, we can confirm that an investigation into potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations relating to this gathering is now being conducted,” they said.

Sir Keir has claimed “no laws were broken” over Beergate, but it was on Monday that he made a significant intervention amid the police investigation.

“I simply had something to eat while working late in the evening, as any politician would do days before an election, but if the police decide to issue me with a fixed penalty notice, I would of course do the right thing and step down,” he said.

Yes, this does mean that a handful of police officers in Durham will decide the fate of this country’s leader of the opposition, and while we’re not saying potential rule-breaking isn’t newsworthy, interpreting this news as two political leaders potentially losing their jobs over cakes and curry is a bit wild.

And it seems Twitter users agree with us:

To be completely honest, we’re struggling to keep up with it all.

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