Confident of taking power at the next UK general election, the Labour party is setting out its vision to the country’s allies with vows of reconnecting with Europe after Brexit and delivering economic competence.
Last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and this week with a set-piece foreign policy speech, Labour bigwigs are pushing the fight against the crisis-ridden Conservatives well beyond UK borders.
The centre-left party — a political force under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from 1997 to 2010 — promises continuity on the Conservative platform of unflinching UK support for Ukraine, along with scepticism towards China.
But in general, Labour’s would-be foreign secretary David Lammy offered a riposte to what he called the Conservatives’ “ideological leadership and reckless choices”.
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” he told European and other foreign diplomats on Tuesday at the Chatham House international affairs think-tank in London.
“The UK is home to cutting-edge technology and services, world-leading universities, vibrant cultural industries, and it has the potential for unparallelled global connections.
“Labour will reset our foreign policy to create a ‘Britain Reconnected’, for security and prosperity at home.”
However, both Lammy and Labour leader Keir Starmer are ruling out the ultimate reconnection — by taking the UK back into the European Union, or at least its single market.
The 2016 Brexit referendum settled that debate, and EU allies themselves would rather the UK get on with building permanent new arrangements free of the never-ending rancour that characterised the Conservatives’ approach to Brussels, Labour argues.
Labour’s slogan contrasts with the “Global Britain” promised by Boris Johnson when he took the country out of the EU at the start of 2020.
But trade deals promised by Johnson and his short-lived successor Liz Truss have done little to compensate for the loss of the UK’s friction-free relationship with its biggest markets across the Channel.
A disastrous economic experiment launched by Truss during her September-October tenure left the UK a “laughing stock” internationally, Lammy argued.
– Multilateralism –
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is trying to steady the ship financially while also reaching out to the EU in a bid to overhaul contentious post-Brexit trading rules for Northern Ireland.
But with inflation in double digits, strikes crippling key sectors, and many Britons enduring cold and hunger this winter, all…