Sir Keir Starmer has set out his “optimistic” vision for a wide-ranging new relationship with the US under Joe Biden.
Speaking before Biden’s inauguration on 20 January, Starmer said he was “incredibly optimistic about the new relationship we can build” and that Britain must once again be “the bridge between the US and the rest of Europe”.
The speech marks Starmer’s first full remarks on UK foreign policy since being elected Labour leader.
He described himself as “pro-American but anti-Trump”, saying he was committed to a new US-UK relationship, consisting of “a strong future together, on everything from security, climate change, aid and trade”.
He said Boris Johnson had spent the last few years “cosying up to people who don’t have Britain’s interests at heart – thumbing his nose at our friends, breaking international law and courting the idea that he’s ‘Britain’s Trump’”.
In contrast, he said that under a Labour government, Britain would seek to act as a “moral force for good in the world” after “a decade of global retreat” under the Conservatives.
He drew on the examples of the work done under former Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and urged Johnson to use this year’s hosting of the G7 summit to bring countries together to rebuild after the pandemic.
“Britain needs to seize this chance to lead in the world again, just as Blair and Brown did over global poverty and the financial crisis, that’s what Britain can achieve,” he said.
“The outgoing president is in the middle of being impeached; charged with incitement to violence, no less. And the US is more divided than at any time I can remember.
“Amid all that, this is a moment of huge optimism. Of hope winning out over hate. And it can also be a turning point. Not just in America but also for Britain’s relationship with the US, and for global politics.”
At the same time the Labour leader said he would look to build a “close economic relationship” with the EU, rooted in shared values with high standards and protections for businesses, working people and the environment.
“Of course, Boris Johnson will never do that. He wants something completely different from Brexit. To deregulate, to lower standards, to slash rights,” he said.