Closer EU ties is Labour’s top foreign policy priority, says David Lammy

Closer EU ties is Labour’s top foreign policy priority, says David Lammy

Labour’s David Lammy has promised that strengthening the UK’s relationship with the EU is the party’s top foreign policy concern if it wins power next year.

The shadow foreign secretary said forging closer ties with Brussels after the damage done by Brexit was Sir Keir Starmer’s “number one priority” in foreign affairs.

Mr Lammy also claimed EU leaders and officials find dealing with Sir Keir like “honey on toast” after constant clashes with the Tory government since Britain choose to leave the bloc.

The senior MP added that if Labour were to win the election, there would be “a tonal shift” in UK-EU relations with a move to return to more regular talks between the governmental powers.

“It’s our number one priority because it’s our backyard,” Mr Lammy told the i’s podcast on a stronger partnership.

“It’s our number one priority because there is war in Europe and because I believe our future prosperity and security is predicated on good relationships with our European partners.”

The frontbencher also said he believed voters would find it “extraordinary” that the government doesn’t sit down for talks with the EU “every four months or every six months” to talk over big issues. “We need to get back to that,” said Mr Lammy.

“I did a meeting with Keir Starmer and European ambassadors and they described the tonal difference as being like honey on toast,” said Mr Lammy

He said Sir Keir has built “a very good relationship with German chancellor Olaf Scholz, and claimed the “chemistry” between the Labour leader and French president Emmanuel Macron was “very strong”.

Keir Starmer recently picked the EU anthem as his favourite piece of classical music (PA Wire)
Keir Starmer recently picked the EU anthem as his favourite piece of classical music (PA Wire)

The shadow minister also said the Ukraine war show that a defence security pact with the EU would be high on the agenda, after it was rejected by Boris Johnson during the Brexit negotiations.

“We said that we think a security pact is fundamental,” Mr Lammy said. “I think war in Europe demonstrates that.” He said any security pact with the EU would “be cast as wide as possible” to include “security issues in relation to migration”.

But Mr Lammy stopped short of a Labour pledge to return to the EU institutions such as the single market or customs union – claiming there could be no contemplation of it in the current political cycle.

Instead, he insisted that his focus as foreign secretary would be to work in the national interests of both Leave and Remain voters.

However, Mr Lammy said he aware of the “changing mood”, as a recent UK in a Changing Europe report found that 16 per cent of 2016 Leave voters now say they would vote to rejoin.

The shadow foreign secretary did not rule out a return to the EU down the track, notable after recent polling suggested the British public has an increasing regret about Brexit.

It follows European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen saying young Britons could reverse Breixt by deciding to re-join the EU in the years ahead.

The top EU figure said it was up to the next generation to “fix” the mistakes made by British politicians on Brexit in surprise remarks. “We goofed it up, you have to fix it,” she said.

Tory deputy chair Lee Anderson claimed he would move to the remote Scottish islands of Orkney if the UK ever voted to reverse Brexit.

The right-winger recently suggested that migrants should be sent to Orkney if Rishi Sunak fails to enact his Rwanda deportation plan.