Labour makes U-turn after Mail proves Rayner was at 'beergate'

‘We made a mistake. Angela WAS present’: Labour makes humiliating U-turn after Mail proves Rayner was at ‘beergate’ event under police review

  • Labour have admitted Angela Rayner was at an event Sir Kier Starmer in 2021
  • The Labour leader was caught on camera having a bottle of beer with colleagues
  • A press officer originally denied Rayner was at Durham Miners Hall that evening
  • The WhatsApp message sent by a senior Labour press officer could hardly have been clearer.

    Asked by the Daily Mail if the party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner had been present at the Durham Miners Hall the evening Sir Keir Starmer enjoyed a beer with local MP Mary Foy and other comrades, the spokesman replied categorically: ‘Angela wasn’t there.’

    But now that simple claim has been undermined, ironically by Labour’s own digital campaigning prowess.

    Last night, in an astonishing volte-face, Labour belatedly admitted that Mrs Rayner had been there, but gave no further details.

    The party’s about-turn came after a Mail investigation had already established that despite the denials, the party’s deputy leader had been in the Miners Hall.

    Deputy leader of Labour, Angela Rayner (pictured), has been confirmed to have been present at the Durham Miners Hall in the evening of April 30 2021 after it was originally denied

    Deputy leader of Labour, Angela Rayner (pictured), has been confirmed to have been present at the Durham Miners Hall in the evening of April 30 2021 after it was originally denied

    Sir Kier Starmer at the Durham Miners Hall

    Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner was also at the same building

    Earlier in the evening, before having a beer, Sir Kier was at an online rally in Durham with Angela Rayner

    Lockdown laws at the time, in April 2021, banned indoor socialising except within a household or support bubble

    Lockdown laws at the time, in April 2021, banned indoor socialising except within a household or support bubble

    The event took place at the Durham Miners Hall (pictured), where Sir Kier and Angela addressed Labour voters online

    The event took place at the Durham Miners Hall (pictured), where Sir Kier and Angela addressed Labour voters online

    Almost a year since the fateful event, when lockdown laws at the time banned indoor socialising except within a household or support bubble, the party’s Facebook page still shows a video that proves Sir Keir and Mrs Rayner were in the same building at the same time.

    It can be revealed today that less than an hour before the infamous video was taken of Sir Keir with bottle in hand, he and his deputy sat at the same desk to address Labour activists across the country.

    They were the star turns in a live online rally being held less than a week before the country went to the ballot boxes in the pair’s first major electoral test.

    It was advertised by frontbencher Nick Thomas-Symonds in a social media post that can still be viewed today. ‘Tune in 8.30pm-9pm tonight for Labour’s Get Out The Vote “6 Days to 6th May” rally with Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner and special guests,’ he wrote on Twitter on the afternoon of Friday, April 30.

    He helpfully included a link to the Facebook page hosting the virtual campaigning event, which not only remains online but includes a complete video of the 48-minute proceedings. It was hosted by Labour MP Carolyn Harris, broadcasting from her home in Wales. She made it clear the rally was live by announcing: ‘Well, hello everyone and welcome to the very last Friday before May 6.’

    A Labour press officer told the Daily Mail that Angela Rayner was not present (pictured)

    A Labour press officer told the Daily Mail that Angela Rayner was not present (pictured)

    After her introduction she handed over to Sir Keir, who was wearing the same open-necked white shirt which would later be seen in the clip filmed by passers-by as he drank a bottle of beer.

    As he addressed voters by webcam, he was sitting in a small room with white walls and a mirror on a mantelpiece that showed the reflection of a distinctive ‘half round’ fanlight window.

    Sir Keir gave a six-minute speech to the 16,000 watching online, saying: ‘Let me just start by thanking every single person who’s on this call this evening. Thank you for joining us.’ He said the party was facing ‘huge, huge elections’, the first since the ‘devastating’ national poll in December 2019 – which saw Boris Johnson rout his predecessor as Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

    Sir Keir claimed the upcoming elections would pit his Labour Party against a ‘Conservative Party that’s up to its neck in sleaze’.

    After the rally heard from other speakers, including one in the US, host Miss Harris handed over to the final speaker – Angela Rayner.

    She appeared on screen in front of the same background Sir Keir had sat in front of less than 20 minutes earlier – the same white walls, the same mirror on the mantelpiece and the same window in the reflection. And she even confirmed exactly where she was, quoting the motto of Durham Miners.

    ‘Being here at the Miners Hall in Durham, I’ve got to start with “the past we inherit, the future we build”,’ Mrs Rayner said.

    As well as hosting the ‘Pitman’s Parliament’ in decades gone by and being the headquarters of the Durham Miners’ Association, the grand Edwardian building is also used for constituency meetings by Mrs Foy.

    And it is where the party has admitted Sir Keir was when he was caught enjoying a drink with colleagues, including Mrs Foy, in an apparent breach of Covid rules at the time as well as government electioneering guidance that stated: ‘You should not meet with other campaigners indoors.’

    That video was shot a little after 10pm – less than an hour after Mrs Rayner addressed the online rally from a room there. Photos of the hall show that its ground floor has the same distinctive fanlight windows that can be seen in the background of Sir Keir and Mrs Rayner’s pieces to camera.

    The full 43-second clip of the video revealed by the Mail this week shows Sir Keir in another room of the hall, swigging from a bottle of beer and listening to Mrs Foy while two men eat food by the doorway.

    A woman sitting facing the two Labour MPs had been named by social media users as Joy Allen, then campaigning to be Durham crime tsar. But she has denied being present and the evidence obtained by the Mail suggests the woman is Mrs Rayner.

    The morning after the event, Sir Keir and Mrs Rayner visited a major building development in Durham

    The morning after the event, Sir Keir and Mrs Rayner visited a major building development in Durham

    When this newspaper first asked the party’s press office in January about Mrs Rayner’s possible presence, the reply was unequivocal: ‘Angela wasn’t there.’ But the deputy leader had also shared photos and videos of herself with Sir Keir in the building at the same time.

    She was wearing the same polka-dot dress as she wore during the online rally and earlier that day while out canvassing hundreds of miles away in Birmingham. The next day – at 8.53am on Saturday, May 1 – she posted two photographs of herself in front of miners’ lodges banners at the hall and wrote: ‘Last year was the first year in two decades that I couldn’t come to Durham. It’s good to be back!’

    Then at 9.45am she shared a video – which again is still online – of herself and Sir Keir touring the building which Labour claims she had not stepped inside.

    It began with him declaring: ‘On International Workers’ Day, we’re at Redhills, the historic Durham Miners Hall.’

    Mrs Rayner was filmed outside the building saying: ‘From here in Durham to the miners in South Wales, it was working people and trade unionists who created local healthcare systems that laid the foundations for our country’s greatest institution, the National Health Service.’

    The morning after the indoor event, Sir Keir and Mrs Rayner were pictured in hard hats and hi-vis jackets as they visited a major building development in Durham, known as Milburngate.