Labour pursues 'closer' ties with EU as Lammy's talks 'just beginning' for Brussels 'reset'

Labour pursues 'closer' ties with EU as Lammy's talks 'just beginning' for Brussels 'reset'

Labour pursues 'closer' ties with EU as Lammy's talks 'just beginning' for Brussels 'reset'

PA
Jack Walters

By Jack Walters


Published: 07/07/2024

- 19:56

The Foreign Secretary was an avid supporter of a second referendum on EU membership

Foreign Secretary David Lammy has claimed his talks with EU nations this weekend are “just the beginning” of his attempt to “reset” relations with the Brussels bloc.

Lammy, who succeeded Lord David Cameron following Labour’s landslide victory on July 4, is visiting a number of EU member states.


Germany’s Foreign Ministry said the push could help see the UK “move closer to the EU” after voters opted to cut ties with the bloc in 2016.

Lammy, who compared Brexit-backing members of the European Research Group to Nazis and supported a second referendum on EU membership, vowed to “reset relations with Europe as a reliable partner, a dependable ally and a good neighbour”.

Labour pursues 'closer' ties with EU as Lammy's talks 'just beginning' for Brussels 'reset'

Labour pursues 'closer' ties with EU as Lammy's talks 'just beginning' for Brussels 'reset'

PA

“That is why I am travelling immediately to some of our key European partners. Sitting down with Germany’s Annalena Baerbock, Poland’s Radek Sikorski and Sweden’s Tobias Billström, my message will be simple: let us seize the opportunity for a reset, working even more closely together to tackle shared challenges,” he said.

The Foreign Secretary also said Labour will “champion” EU holidays and school exchanges, which critics argue have been hindered by Brexit.

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer insisted Labour would not drag the UK back into the Brussels bloc, vowing to keep Britain out of the Single Market.

Lammy added: “We are not going to rejoin the Single Market and the Customs Union but there is much that we can do together.”

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Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer speaks during a press conference after his first Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer speaks during a press conference after his first Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street

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However, the EU is reportedly going to rush to reopen Brexit negotiations.

A source told The Guardian: “It’s not that people are thinking good things about the UK, it’s not that they are thinking bad things. They are not thinking about the UK at all.”

Another source claimed: “There is no appetite for Brexit in European capitals.”

Doubling-down on the irrelevance of Brexit, the insider added: “The UK is simply not in people’s minds.

\u200bThe Foreign Secretary was an avid supporter of a second referendum on EU membership

The Foreign Secretary was an avid supporter of a second referendum on EU membership

PA

“We have two wars going on – reopening talks on Brexit would require a lot of political capital and absorb a lot of resources here in Brussels.”

However, Irish Taoiseach Simon Harris claimed the Brussels bloc is “absolutely” open to Starmer’s plan.

He said: “I do absolutely think there would be a fair hearing for any proposal that the British government or indeed the EU has about ironing out practical issues in terms of having a relationship that works.

“Is there space to have a veterinary agreement, is there space in terms of student mobility, is there space to work closer together on issues? I think there absolutely is.

“And I do think there would be a willingness in Europe to have those conversations in due course, should that be the wish of the British Government.”

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