Keir Starmer and the brand new shadow international 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 because of journey to Washington to fulfill Obama in particular person however the a number of crises engulfing Boris Johnson’s government persuaded him to affix the discussions by video hyperlink, whereas Lammy attended in particular person.
Lammy advised the Observer that the confidential discussions with Obama and different key figures in Washington had been about technique and ways, and shaped a part of an info and concepts trade with centre-left events that had received latest elections, together with towards the populist proper.
Whereas not divulging Obama’s exact recommendation on ways, Lammy – who would develop into the UK’s first black international secretary if Labour got here to energy – urged that points together with imbalances in get together funding and the media had been entrance and centre of the discussions.
“It truly is about how progressive events win and the way Labour can combat again in an atmosphere the place our opponents have 10-to-one extra funds than us,” Lammy mentioned.
“Clearly, in the USA there may be Fox Information, however we’ve got comparable challenges within the UK. Getting our message throughout and studying collectively is absolutely necessary. We’re heartened by President Biden successful in the USA and Olaf Scholz in Germany. We now have bought to be taught the teachings, and Keir is decided 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 mentioned 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’ve got 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 mentioned 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 international secretary less than a fortnight ago in Starmer’s frontbench reshuffle, mentioned the UK wanted to return to being a revered and dependable associate on the worldwide stage after the period of Boris Johnson.
“Britain is usually a power for good, however very sadly this authorities’s international coverage place is constructed on contradictions. We now have develop 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’ll be able to’t promise to guard armed forces solely to chop them, and slashing help has been largely pilloried internationally.
“We have to get again to being a constant, dependable associate that places values and human proper on the centre of our place on this planet. It isn’t in regards to the rhetoric of world Britain or parading round on tanks, which I noticed Liz Truss doing a number of weeks in the past as a form of Pound Store model of Margaret Thatcher.
“These are very critical occasions. We now have bought alarm bells in Ukraine, we’ve got bought a deep and painful winter for a lot of in Afghanistan, rising issues within the Balkans, a rising China the place there are actual considerations – not nearly human rights but additionally 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 this planet.”
Whereas he was clear that the UK had left the EU for good and that the matter was settled, Lammy insisted that below Labour it might construct a “new relationship with the EU”, which in flip would bolster relations with Washington.
On his US go to, Lammy mentioned folks had been apprehensive about Johnson’s risk to invoke article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol and the attainable penalties. “Politicians have raised with me their actual concern in regards to the Good Friday settlement. It’s observed when Britain seems to be reneging on treaties and offers that it has struck. They’ve additionally observed rising rhetoric between Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron.
“We’ll 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 appears to the Pacific and eyes points in Asia notably, due to China, it’s much more necessary to our trusted particular relationship with the US that we’re on the centre of points in Europe.”
Lammy urged that the UK’s greatest 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 bought smaller not simply due to the pandemic however on account of leaving the EU. We wish to be a rustic the place we’ve got development within the economic system, the place British companies can prosper, the place they don’t seem to be tied up with purple tape. And that does, in fact, imply that we’ve got bought to be engaged in putting the very best commerce offers internationally.”
Amongst his key priorities, he mentioned, could be selling UK growth help 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.