UK to target closer partnership with European Union, says David Lammy

Britain must be a “good neighbour” to the European Union as it targets a “closer partnership” with the bloc, according to the new Foreign Secretary.

David Lammy used his first trip abroad as the UK’s top diplomat to make clear to his counterparts in Germany, Poland and Sweden about the chance to “seize the opportunity for a reset” and work “even more closely together to tackle shared challenges”.

Mr Lammy identified support for Ukraine and climate change, along with holidays and student exchanges, as areas where this can take place.

Elsewhere, Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said the return of freedom of movement with the EU was not on the table as part of efforts to improve post-Brexit trade.

Writing in The Local Europe, Mr Lammy said: “As the new British Foreign Secretary, with our Prime Minister Keir Starmer, this Government will reset relations with Europe as a reliable partner, a dependable ally and a good neighbour.”

Mr Lammy said UK military, economic, political and diplomatic support for Ukraine will “remain ironclad” before stressing the importance of working with others.

He said: “European security will be this Government’s foreign and defence priority.

“Russia’s barbaric invasion has made clear the need for us to do more to strengthen our own defences. Next week, the Prime Minister, the Defence Secretary and I will all travel to Washington for the Nato Summit.”

Mr Lammy said the Labour Government’s commitment to Nato is “unshakeable” and one of the areas discussed with his counterparts included providing Ukraine with its “own clear path” to joining the alliance.

On climate change, Mr Lammy said countries must invest in the “industries of the future and deliver sustained economic growth for all”.

He added: “And finally, we must do more to champion the ties between our people and our culture. Holidays, family ties, school and student exchanges, the arts, and sport.”

Mr Lammy went on: “But if we are to fulfil our ambitions for a reset, we must also improve Britain’s relationship with the European Union.”

He said the Government’s proposal for an “ambitious and broad-ranging” UK-EU security pact would seek to “underpin closer co-operation between us”.

Mr Lammy went on: “Today, we all share a commitment to democracy, human rights and international law. Tragic experiences in our continent’s shared past have helped us to understand how our shared security and prosperity depend on these shared values.

“And I believe these values also offer a foundation for closer partnership in the future. My visit this weekend is just the beginning. I look forward to seeing Britain reconnect with our European neighbours in the years ahead.”

Appearing on the Sunday morning broadcast round, Business Secretary Mr Reynolds said “removing some of those barriers to trade makes sense” when discussing future working with the EU.

He told Sky News’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips: “We’ve talked about recognising each others’ professional qualifications, again completely sensible, pragmatic.

“If you are in the creative industries you’ve really suffered in your ability to move around the European Union in terms of the restrictions on that. These are practical things.”

Pressed on free movement of people, Mr Reynolds said: “We’re not open to the free movement of people, that is something that is part of membership of the European Union and, as I said, we’re not revisiting that.”