Keir Starmer and the brand new shadow overseas secretary David Lammy held two hours of personal talks with former US president Barack Obama final week about how centre-left events can return to energy – amid new optimism over Labour’s possibilities on the subsequent election.
Starmer had been due to journey to Washington to meet Obama in individual however the a number of crises engulfing Boris Johnson’s authorities persuaded him to be part of the discussions by video hyperlink, whereas Lammy attended in individual.
Lammy instructed the Observer that the confidential discussions with Obama and different key figures in Washington have been about technique and ways, and shaped a part of an data and concepts change with centre-left events that had received current elections, together with towards the populist proper.
Whereas not divulging Obama’s exact recommendation on ways, Lammy – who would change into the UK’s first black overseas secretary if Labour got here to energy – advised that points together with imbalances in occasion funding and the media have been entrance and centre of the discussions.
“It truly is about how progressive events win and how Labour can combat again in an atmosphere the place our opponents have 10-to-one extra funds than us,” Lammy stated.
“Clearly, in the US there may be Fox Information, however we have now comparable challenges within the UK. Getting our message throughout and studying collectively is de facto essential. We’re heartened by President Biden successful in the US and Olaf Scholz in Germany. Now we have received to be taught the teachings, and Keir is set that we be taught successful methods.
With Labour surging right into a nine-point lead in Sunday’s Opinium ballot for the Observer – the biggest Labour benefit since 2014 recorded by Opinium – a way of perception is starting to construct amongst senior Labour figures that the Tories are more and more susceptible.
Lammy stated Obama was encouraging. “He is aware of that issues can change very a lot with politics. The themes and challenges are frequent. Progressive events have discovered themselves on the again foot in a populist age, and we have now to be taught from one another and from colleagues who’re successful.”
Shortly after Joe Biden led the Democrats to victory over Donald Trump in November final 12 months, Starmer stated the US election held “stark classes” for Labour, noting that the Democrats’ “path to victory was paved by a broad coalition, together with states and communities that 4 years in the past turned away from them.”
Lammy, appointed shadow overseas secretary lower than a fortnight in the past in Starmer’s frontbench reshuffle, stated the UK wanted to return to being a revered and dependable associate on the worldwide stage after the period of Boris Johnson.
“Britain can be a pressure for good, however very sadly this authorities’s overseas coverage place is constructed on contradictions. Now we have change into an unreliable, inconsistent associate. The federal government trumpets worldwide regulation however repeatedly and brazenly breaks it. It seeks peace in Yemen whereas promoting arms to Saudi Arabia. You can’t promise to shield armed forces solely to reduce them, and slashing assist has been largely pilloried the world over.
“We’d like to get again to being a constant, dependable associate that places values and human proper on the centre of our place on the earth. It isn’t concerning the rhetoric of world Britain or parading round on tanks, which I noticed Liz Truss doing just a few weeks in the past as a type of Pound Store model of Margaret Thatcher.
“These are very critical occasions. Now we have received alarm bells in Ukraine, we have now received a deep and painful winter for a lot of in Afghanistan, rising issues within the Balkans, a rising China the place there are actual issues – not nearly human rights but in addition about the best way China is aggressively treating residents in Hong Kong, and sabre-rattling in relation to Taiwan. It is a harmful, difficult context and we want Britain as soon as once more to be a constant, dependable associate that befits a rustic that’s the sixth-biggest economic system on the earth.”
Whereas he was clear that the UK had left the EU for good and that the matter was settled, Lammy insisted that underneath Labour it might construct a “new relationship with the EU”, which in flip would bolster relations with Washington.
On his US go to, Lammy stated folks have been fearful about Johnson’s risk to invoke article 16 of the Northern Eire protocol and the potential penalties. “Politicians have raised with me their actual concern concerning the Good Friday settlement. It’s seen when Britain seems to be reneging on treaties and offers that it has struck. They’ve additionally seen rising rhetoric between Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron.
“We are going to construct a brand new relationship with Europe. We’re out of the EU – that’s clear and that’s settled. Because the US more and more seems to be to the Pacific and eyes points in Asia notably, due to China, it’s much more essential to our trusted particular relationship with the US that we’re on the centre of points in Europe.”
Lammy advised that the UK’s finest financial pursuits post-Brexit rested on it rebuilding shut hyperlinks with the EU, coupled with the pursuit of actual substantial commerce offers with international locations exterior the bloc.
“Our economic system has received smaller not simply due to the pandemic however on account of leaving the EU. We would like to be a rustic the place we have now progress within the economic system, the place British companies can prosper, the place they don’t seem to be tied up with crimson tape. And that does, in fact, imply that we have now received to be engaged in placing the very best commerce offers the world over.”
Amongst his key priorities, he stated, can be selling UK growth assist after Tory cuts, the battle towards the local weather disaster, and making certain that Britain performs its half in supporting a good shareout of vaccines to poorer international locations within the persevering with combat towards Covid-19.