'Re-engage not re-join' is Labour strategy on Europe, says shadow foreign secretary Lammy

Wed 25 Jan 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Labour party logo

Britain needs to “get real” about normalising its relationship with the EU, said shadow foreign secretary David Lammy in a speech laying out Labour’s foreign policy.

While ruling out the possibility of the UK re-joining the EU, single market or customs union under Labour, Lammy said that “within our red lines, there is real progress we can make to increase trade with our neighbours and deliver prosperity at home”.

Speaking to an audience at Chatham House yesterday (25 January), Lammy stressed the party’s determination to strengthen the UK’s relationship with Europe, fix the Northern Ireland Protocol and rebuild bilateral relationships with European countries.

“Quite a contrast to the speech Liz Truss delivered Chatham House not so long ago,” tweeted Leslie Vinjamuri, the organisation’s US & Americas director.

TCA review

Lammy highlighted the review in 2025 of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which could begin within weeks of a Labour election victory, reports the FT.

He stuck to Labour’s existing policy to resolve the NI Protocol disputes through a veterinary agreement aimed at resolving friction on food and agricultural goods. He also spoke about the importance of strengthening the recognition of professional qualifications to support services trade.

China stance

Morgan Jones, a reporter at Labour List, tweeted that Lammy said that the party will institute “a complete audit of the UK-China relationship”.

Its policy will be determined by China,its postures in the region and on Taiwan, he added.

He described China as a “strategic competitor” rather than threat, but was clear in the need to respond to Beijing’s growing dominance by re-engaging with multilateral organisations and leveraging UK soft power.

Relations not settled

A new report from the UK in a Changing Europe group says that UK relations with the EU have still to settle into a coherent and consistent pattern six and a half years after the Brexit referendum.

The reports looks at the state of play on trade and other areas highlighting deadlines and decisions in a number of areas, such as financial services, electric vehicles and fisheries.

It concludes that changes to the relationship are likely to be slow and incremental, noting that there is little scope for a radical improvement, according to RTE.