Boris Johnson has claimed Labour is led by “Sir Beer Korma” and urged the “sanctimonious” Opposition leader to apologise for allegedly breaking Covid rules.
Minutes after telling MPs how “humbled” he had been by lockdown failings in Downing Street, Mr Johnson sought to switch some of the focus in the Commons away from the Sue Gray report.
Sir Keir Starmer has promised to step down if he is issued with a fixed penalty notice over alleged Covid rule-breaking.
Durham police are investigating after the Labour leader was caught on camera drinking a beer in an MP’s office after a day of campaigning for local elections in April 2021.
At the time, Covid rules meant indoor gatherings were banned except for work purposes.
Sir Keir said: “I have been clear what leadership looks like. I haven’t broken any rules and any attempt to compare a perfectly legal takeaway while working to this catalogue of criminality looks even more ridiculous today.
“But if the police decide otherwise, I will do the decent thing and step down.
“The public need to know that not all politicians are the same. That not all politicians put themselves above their country. That honesty integrity and accountability matter.”
Sir Keir appealed for Conservative MPs to do “their bit” and oust Mr Johnson.
But the Prime Minister countered: “After months of his, frankly, sanctimonious obsession, the great gaseous Zeppelin of his pomposity has been permanently punctured and irretrievably by the revelation that he is himself – he didn’t mention this – he is himself under investigation by the police.
“And yet, I am not going to mince my words, I am going to say this. Sir Beer Korma is currently failing to hold himself to the same high standards that he demanded of me.
“He called for me to resign when the investigation began. Why is he in his place?
“He is still there and so is the shadow deputy leader (Angela Rayner).
“I apologised when the revelations emerged. I continue to apologise, I repeat that I am humbled by what has happened and we instituted profound changes throughout Number 10.
“But I think, in view of the mess that he has found himself in, it would now be a sensible thing for him too to apologise so that we can all collectively move on. That, I think, is what the people of this country want to see above all.”
Several Conservative MPs made reference to the Durham investigation when they raised questions with Mr Johnson.
Jack Brereton (Stoke-on-Trent South) said: “Given what happened in Durham, the only people left to apologise in this chamber are on those Labour front benches opposite.”
Mr Johnson replied: “People in glasshouses should not throw stones.”
Tory Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet) said: “Whereas I have great comfort and respect that the courts tend to come to the same conclusion for the same offences, it’d seem the legislation we passed allowed an individual police force to come to different conclusions and certainly different police forces.
“Because of the photos I’ve seen, I’d much rather have been at the curry and beer than the birthday party that the Prime Minister had in the Cabinet room.”