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UK Labour's foreign policy pitch maintains strong support for Ukraine

Britain's Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy meets with Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib in Beirut

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's opposition Labour Party signaled it would continue the current government's strong support for Ukraine in its war with Russia if it came to power, with its foreign policy spokesperson warning the rest of Europe against complacency.

The Labour Party is currently around 20 percentage points ahead of the governing Conservatives in opinion polls ahead of an election expected this year, while February will mark the two-year anniversary of Russia's full invasion of Ukraine.

In a speech on Saturday, Labour's foreign policy chief David Lammy will reiterate Labour's desire for a new British-EU security pact, and will say that if Labour came to power, he would visit Kyiv in the first 100 days in office "to demonstrate Labour's long-term commitment to stop Vladimir Putin and begin work on a pathway towards Ukraine's NATO membership."

"We in Europe risk taking our eye off the ball," Lammy will say, according to extracts of the speech, which added he would label Putin a "ringleader of a new form of fascism".

Lammy criticised the Conservatives for damaging Britain's standing on the world stage over 14 years of government, during which Britain left the European Union.

He will also cite the Middle East as an arena where Britain's diplomatic standing has fallen, saying the country's reputation for preventative diplomacy "needs urgent revival."

"We must return to diplomacy to stop the whole region descending into full-scale war," he will say, adding Labour would seek a new International Contact Group to work towards peace in the Middle East.

Labour has backed Israel's right to retaliate against Hamas after the militant group's deadly Oct. 7 assault, but has also called for a "sustainable ceasefire", predicated on the release of hostages, to end the bombardment of Gaza and prevent escalation in the region, and wants to work towards a two-state solution.

"The quest for Palestinian statehood is a just cause," Lammy will say. "That is why a Labour government will work with international partners to recognise the state of Palestine."

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Frances Kerry)