Political round-up: 'Pestminster' revelations, Keir's beer in Durham & more

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Keir Starmer Credit: PA

The heart of British politics has again been dubbed as 'Pestminster' this week, with a new wave of stories around misogyny and sexual misconduct.

The Conservative MP for Berwick, and International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan was the government minister doing the morning round of interviews on Friday. She was asked about her experiences and, on LBC Radio, described "a number of years ago, being pinned up against a wall by a male MP who is now no longer in the House... declaring that I must want him because he was a powerful man."

She also said she had been subjected to "wandering hands" on a number of occasions. She suggested to male colleagues: "keep your hands in your pockets and behave as you would if you had your daughter in the room."

Sir Keir Starmer has faced more questions this week over his beer and food with colleagues in Labour's office in Durham in April 2021.

In February, Durham Police concluded: "we do not believe an offence has been established".

But after the Prime Minister and others were fined over an event in Downing Street, the Conservative MP for North West Durham Richard Holden argued there were "geographical variations in policing of covid regulations" and urged his local force to review the Labour leader's case.

On Thursday, Durham Police said they would consider the communications they'd received, but were "not currently investigating the incident."

Accused of hypocrisy after calling for Boris Johnson to resign over 'partygate', Starmer and Labour have insisted he didn't break rules.

But a couple of traditionally Conservative-supporting newspapers have continued to push the story, revealing that Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner had also been present in the office in Durham, which the party had previously denied.

On Wednesday in Westminster Hall, several local MPs put forward the merits of County Durham's bid to be the UK City of Culture 2025.

Sedgefield Conservative Paul Howell spoke about how that year will also mark the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which was the first in the world to use steam trains to transport passengers, and the City of Culture award could be a "multiplier opportunity" to attract yet more visitors. 

City of Durham Labour MP Mary Kelly Foy described the bid as "a unique opportunity to utilise our area’s strengths, kick-start investment and help our county realise its enormous potential."

County Durham is on the final shortlist of four, with the winner due to be announced later in May.

Parliament was prorogued on Thursday, ahead of the Queen's Speech on 10 May. 

Before that there are local elections in parts of our region on 5 May. Here's my article about what to look out for.

This weekend marks 25 years since former Sedgefield MP Sir Tony Blair became Prime Minister. I've interviewed him about the 1997 landslide and a lot more - check that out here.