Labour’s David Lammy aims for UK foreign policy reset

By Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters) -Labour’s David Lammy becomes Britain’s next foreign secretary pledging to reset relations with the European Union and push for a ceasefire in Gaza, while seeking to build ties with Donald Trump’s Republican Party.

The centre-left Labour Party won a landslide victory in Thursday’s parliamentary election, ending 14 years of Conservative government and vowing to bring change to Britain.

While the six initial priorities promised in its election manifesto focussed on domestic matters, a long list of international issues awaits Lammy in his in-tray.

Labour has said long-term peace and security in the Middle East would be an immediate focus. It has committed to recognising a Palestinian state as a contribution to a renewed peace process which results in a two-state solution.

Lammy, 51, travelled widely before the election, particularly to the United States, where he has been working to build ties with Republicans, after once writing in Time magazine that Trump was a “woman-hating, neo-Nazi sociopath”.

He has met Republican figures seen as candidates for roles in a Trump cabinet, including Mike Pompeo.

Lammy has strong links with leading Democrats and is a close friend of former President Barack Obama, a fellow Harvard Law School alumni.


In a speech during a visit there in May, Lammy said Labour would always work with the United States “whatever the weather and whoever wins” and he would seek to find “common cause” with Trump.

“I do not believe that he is arguing that the U.S. should abandon Europe. He wants Europeans to do more to ensure a better defended Europe,” he said.

“Were his words in office shocking? Yes, they were. Would we have used them? No. But U.S. spending on European defence actually grew under President Trump, as did the defence spending of the wider alliance, during his tenure.”

Lammy, the son of Guyanese immigrants, represents an inner-London constituency and has spent much of his political career campaigning for social and racial justice.

He supported Britain remaining in the European Union in the 2016 referendum. While Labour has promised Britain will stay outside the bloc, it wants to reset the relationship and seek to deepen ties, including through a new UK-EU security pact.

Lammy has previously described Marine Le Pen, a leading figure in France’s far-right National Rally (RN), as xenophobic and malevolent. Polls show her party is on course to win the most seats in the French parliamentary election but fall short of an absolute majority.

“France is one of Britain’s closest allies and we will work with whoever is elected. It is a democracy and it is up to the French people who governs them,” Lammy told reporters earlier this week. “We will wait to see what happens in the second round on July 7.”

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Janet Lawrence)


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