The culture secretary is known for her vocal support for the current prime minister Boris Johnson, especially when he has come under fire from his critics for not necessarily telling the whole truth throughout his time in office.
She backed him even when he was recently accused of misleading parliament over his attendance at the Downing Street lockdown parties, and said in February she would only stop being loyal to Johnson if he “kicked a dog”.
So, when she tried to attack the leader of the opposition by calling for him to be “open, honest and transparent”, it’s fair to say it raised some eyebrows.
Responding to the Daily Mail’s front page which accused Starmer of dodging questions about attending a gathering with beer during lockdown, Dorries tweeted: “The man who wants to one day be prime minister cannot behave like this.
“He has a responsibility to be open, honest and transparent with the public. #Beergate”
“Beergate” is the new term to describe the party which Starmer has been accused of attending in April 2021 in Durham. He remains adamant that he did not break any social distancing rules at the time.
Even so, the Tories have repeatedly called for a probe into this gathering following the mounting number of fines being issued to their own party over breaking Covid rules – including fixed penalty notices for both Johnson himself, his wife Carrie Johnson and his chancellor Rishi Sunak.
While the Metropolitan Police are still investigating the government’s own involvement in a series of Downing Street parties – dubbed partygate – Durham Police have not got back in touch with Starmer about his attendance at this gathering.
Hours before Dorries’ tweet, new data from YouGov shows the flurry of renewed interest in Beergate had not actually affected what the public think of Starmer or Johnson.
In fact, when compared to the same survey questions asked in January, an extra 2% of respondents like Starmer generally did follow the rules (making it a 42% overall).
When asked the same question about the prime minister, 70% still believed Johnson had “generally” broken the Covid rules.