Covid is a 'gift that keeps on giving' says ally of Sir Keir Starmer

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Covid is a 'gift that keeps on giving' says ally of Sir Keir Starmer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is facing a backlash after one of his most senior frontbenchers described the Covid pandemic as a 'gift that keeps o

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is facing a backlash after one of his most senior frontbenchers described the Covid pandemic as a ‘gift that keeps on giving’ for lawyers.

Lord Falconer, the Shadow Attorney General, used the phrase during a briefing for a top City firm staffed by millionaire lawyers. 

The peer insists that he was referring to changes in the law triggered by the crisis, but a source close to the Labour grandee said that he regretted his choice of words.

Last night, Lord Falconer’s comments were seized on by the Conservatives, with party chairman Amanda Milling describing it as a ‘troubling’ example of Labour’s approach to the pandemic. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is facing a backlash after one of his most senior frontbenchers described the Covid pandemic as a 'gift that keeps on giving' for lawyers

Lord Falconer (pictured), the Shadow Attorney General, used the phrase during a briefing for a top City firm staffed by millionaire lawyers

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is facing a backlash after one of his most senior frontbenchers described the Covid pandemic as a ‘gift that keeps on giving’ for lawyers. Lord Falconer (right), the Shadow Attorney General, used the phrase during a briefing for a top City firm staffed by millionaire lawyers

Lord Falconer insists that he was referring to changes in the law triggered by the crisis, but a source close to the Labour grandee said that he regretted his choice of words. (He is pictured at the party’s 2018 conference in Liverpool)

Lord Falconer insists that he was referring to changes in the law triggered by the crisis, but a source close to the Labour grandee said that he regretted his choice of words. (He is pictured at the party’s 2018 conference in Liverpool)

The embarrassment comes after a torrid week for Starmer (above, on February 3), who had to apologise to Boris Johnson for making false accusations in the Commons

 The embarrassment comes after a torrid week for Starmer (above, on February 3), who had to apologise to Boris Johnson for making false accusations in the Commons

Last year, three partners at Gibson Dunn, which has 20 offices worldwide, wrote an article for a legal journal which advised private equity firms on how to invest in the 'distressed environment' of Covid. (Above, ambulance staff outside the Royal London hospital)

Last year, three partners at Gibson Dunn, which has 20 offices worldwide, wrote an article for a legal journal which advised private equity firms on how to invest in the ‘distressed environment’ of Covid. (Above, ambulance staff outside the Royal London hospital)

As well as being a full-time member of the Shadow Cabinet, Lord Falconer – who served as Tony Blair’s Lord Chancellor – is a partner at the international law firm Gibson Dunn, where his duties have included leading its Covid-19 UK Task Force.

Labour declined to reveal details of Lord Falconer’s pay at the company, although it was reported in 2019 that full partners at the firm took home an average of £2.5 million a year.

The embarrassment comes after a torrid week for Starmer, who had to apologise to Boris Johnson for making false accusations in the Commons. 

The Labour leader had called it ‘complete nonsense’ for the Prime Minister to claim that Starmer had wanted Britain’s vaccines to remain under the regulation of the European Medicines Agency post-Brexit. He later had to admit the charge was true.

The Labour leader had called it 'complete nonsense' for the Prime Minister to claim that Starmer had wanted Britain's vaccines to remain under the regulation of the European Medicines Agency post-Brexit

Keir Starmer later had to admit the charge was true

The Labour leader had called it ‘complete nonsense’ for the Prime Minister to claim that Starmer had wanted Britain’s vaccines to remain under the regulation of the European Medicines Agency post-Brexit. He later had to admit the charge was true

As well as being a full-time member of the Shadow Cabinet, Lord Falconer – who served as Tony Blair's Lord Chancellor – is a partner at the international law firm Gibson Dunn, where his duties have included leading its Covid-19 UK Task Force. Labour declined to reveal details of Lord Falconer's pay at the company, although it was reported in 2019 that full partners at the firm took home an average of £2.5 million a year. (Above, Lord Falconer in 1997 when he was Tony Blair's Solicitor General)

As well as being a full-time member of the Shadow Cabinet, Lord Falconer – who served as Tony Blair’s Lord Chancellor – is a partner at the international law firm Gibson Dunn, where his duties have included leading its Covid-19 UK Task Force. Labour declined to reveal details of Lord Falconer’s pay at the company, although it was reported in 2019 that full partners at the firm took home an average of £2.5 million a year. (Above, Lord Falconer in 1997 when he was Tony Blair’s Solicitor General)

Constituency Labour parties have also reportedly been drawing up censure motions against Starmer as they lose faith in his ability to win a General Election. 

The most recent opinion poll put the Conservatives three points ahead of Labour, while one survey found that just 16 per cent of people thought Starmer would have done a better job in handling the pandemic than Johnson.

In a recording obtained by The Mail on Sunday, Lord Falconer can be heard introducing a Gibson Dunn ‘webinar’ on ‘how the law has been changed by Covid’ by saying: ‘This is a gift that keeps on giving, the law keeps on changing, keeps on getting more complicated, and is always interesting.’ 

By the time of the webinar, on June 29, in the UK some 43,575 people had died with coronavirus, with the country established as the worst-hit nation in Europe.

Lord Falconer, who also once shared a flat with Mr Blair, inhabits a world which contrasts starkly with that of voters in those ‘Red Wall’ seats in the Midlands and the North which Labour hopes to reclaim from the Tories at the next Election.

In September, Starmer's Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green (above), called the pandemic a 'good crisis' which Labour could exploit

In September, Starmer’s Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green (above), called the pandemic a ‘good crisis’ which Labour could exploit

Last year, three partners at Gibson Dunn, which has 20 offices worldwide, wrote an article for a legal journal which advised private equity firms on how to invest in the ‘distressed environment’ of Covid.

It started: ‘The current Covid-19 pandemic – while providing unprecedented challenges for many portfolio companies – will also present some unique investment opportunities to invest in distressed businesses.’ 

The article suggested the ‘strategic purchase of debt as a path to obtaining control’ of failing firms. 

Lord Falconer, who was appointed to Labour’s front bench last April, is a member of the Privy Council, which technically entitles him to receive sensitive Government information – although there is no suggestion that he has ever used the privilege for commercial advantage.

The source close to Lord Falconer said of his opening comments last night: ‘Charlie was referring to the pace at which the Government is making changes to the law.

‘He regrets his choice of words, which he understands could be misinterpreted.’

A source present at the meeting said: ‘Lord Falconer’s comments to a group of legal advisers were solely about it being an interesting time to study the law.’

In September, Starmer’s Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green, called the pandemic a ‘good crisis’ which Labour could exploit. 

She said: ‘I think we should use the opportunity, don’t let a good crisis go to waste. We can really see now what happens when you under-resource schools, when you under-resource families.’

Last night, Ms Milling said: ‘One Shadow Minister previously said this awful pandemic was a ‘good crisis’ for the Labour Party. Now these troubling comments by another Shadow Minister emerge.

‘All of this sums up Labour’s approach throughout the pandemic, which has been to play politics at every opportunity.’

Lord Falconer, who also once shared a flat with Mr Blair, inhabits a world which contrasts starkly with that of voters in those 'Red Wall' seats in the Midlands and the North which Labour hopes to reclaim from the Tories at the next Election. (Above, the-then Home Secretary David Blunkett, centre, flanked by Lord Falconer and Tony Blair in 2003)

Lord Falconer, who also once shared a flat with Mr Blair, inhabits a world which contrasts starkly with that of voters in those ‘Red Wall’ seats in the Midlands and the North which Labour hopes to reclaim from the Tories at the next Election. (Above, the-then Home Secretary David Blunkett, centre, flanked by Lord Falconer and Tony Blair in 2003)

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