Starmer uses first major summit to push for reset in UK-EU relations

Sir Keir Starmer will use the Nato summit to help “reset” the UK’s relationship with European neighbours.

As is usual for Nato summits, the Prime Minister will be joined on the trip by the Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary, but he is also taking Nick Thomas-Symonds, who has been given the newly-created job of minister for European relations.

Sir Keir’s administration wants to repair the damage to relations with Europe caused by the Brexit wrangles and strike a better deal with the European Union than the “botched” trade agreement signed by Boris Johnson.

The presence of Mr Thomas-Symonds in the delegation for Sir Keir’s first overseas summit shows the importance the Labour Government is placing on efforts to build bridges with the European Union and other nations on the Continent.

Ahead of the summit in Washington, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Nato is a political and military alliance of countries from Europe and North America.

“It’s not unusual that the minister for Europe would accompany the Prime Minister. I’m sure as you’re aware, the PM has said he wants to reset our relationship with Europe.

“He’s told a number of his European counterparts exactly that over the weekend, he sees the Nato summit as an important opportunity to continue laying the groundwork.”

Sir Keir Starmer in Edinburgh
Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer wants to reset relations with Europe (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Earlier this week, Sir Keir told reporters: “We think we can get a better deal than the botched deal that Boris Johnson brought home and we will work on that, understanding the work that needs to be done and the nature of the challenge.”

One issue that could be a sticking point in talks with Brussels is the European Commission proposal for a youth mobility scheme for 18 to 30-year-olds which would allow young Britons to move to the EU to work and live for four years, with the UK expected to offer the same in return.

Before the election, Labour rejected the possibility of an EU-wide scheme, saying the party would “seek to improve the UK’s working relationship with the EU within our red lines – no return to the single market, customs union or free movement”.