Labour's Keir Starmer discusses 'prosperity, security' with Macron

Paris trip is latest in a flurry of international engagements by Labour leaders

British Labour Party leader Keir Starmer is in France for a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron. Getty Images
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UK opposition leader Keir Starmer has held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, in a meeting that seeks to enhance his standing as a potential international leader.

Mr Starmer said they discussed “future prosperity and security”, the possibility of a second Donald Trump presidency and a number of other issues.

The trip is being portrayed as run-of-the-mill for a French leader tasting the UK’s political climate, but it also comes with Mr Starmer’s Labour Party increasingly confident it can win the election and become the next government.

In the first formal discussions, which took place on Tuesday, they also talked about their approaches to China and the state of the economy, according to people familiar with the discussions.

“We had a very constructive and positive meeting, which as you can imagine covered a wide range of issues,” Mr Starmer said.

“It was my first opportunity to say how much I value the relationship between our two countries, particularly when it comes to prosperity and security and how, if we are privileged enough to be elected into power, we intend to build on that relationship and make it even stronger than it is today.”

He added: “We had a very political discussion covering a lot of issues to do with global politics but also it was that opportunity to look at future prosperity, future security, some of the most pressing issues on my mind, on the president's mind.”

He refused to be drawn when asked whether he believed President Macron was hoping for the election of a Labour government, but said it was important that they got to know one another and that he was “very pleased with the outcome”.

They did not discuss Brexit or the UK’s relations with the European Union.

The visit to Paris is the latest in a flurry of international engagements by Labour. Getty Images

The research group, UK In a Changing Europe (UKICE), wants Britain to give the EU an incentive to ease trade barriers.

Mr Starmer has indicated in an interview with the Financial Times that he would seek to use a reassessment of the Brexit agreement to try to get “a much better deal” for the UK.

The trade deal signed by Boris Johnson faces its first five-yearly review in 2025, though the extent of the talks are uncertain.

Mr Starmer’s visit to Paris is the latest in a flurry of international engagements by Labour as the party leadership seeks to raise its profile on the global stage ahead of a likely general election next year.

Coinciding with his trip will be an appearance from shadow defence secretary John Healey in Washington DC, where he will make a speech calling on the US and UK to “work together” to defend democracy.

Speaking at the American Enterprise, Mr Healey will propose the countries jointly establish and lead a new “democratic resilience centre” to protect shared values and collectively monitor threats.

He will say: “For Labour, the US is the UK's most essential ally, especially on defence and security.

“Our countries should be on high alert ahead of the UK general election and US presidential election in 2024. This is the time to launch democratic resilience work together to better protect our democratic values and systems.

“Democracy and freedom is hard-wired into Nato's founding treaties, alongside collective defence. Our deep conviction in democracy means we must also act to defend our democracies when under attack.”

Updated: September 20, 2023, 8:16 AM