It must be one of the most inspirational political messages ever: ‘I will stay on as leader if I’m not fined.’ LBJ would have had a field day with this. To put it bluntly, it’s too late mate. Like when Cameron denied he’d done anything rude with a pig’s head. The point is, are the denials believable? It’s a slight modification of a well known saying—he would deny that wouldn’t he? Starmer may think that by putting himself on the spot over ‘Beergate’ he has also nailed down Johnson’s perfidy. In fact, he’s walked into a trap of his own making, since everyone knows and expects Johnson never to do the ‘right thing’ regardless. It no longer matters whether Starmer is fined or not—if the Durham police take eight weeks to ‘investigate’ the alleged crime, that’s eight weeks of equivalence between Starmer and Johnson. It will take a lot longer than that to wash the stain out. As has been said so many times, it can take years to build up trust but only one day to destroy it. Hopeless.