David Lammy: EU talks are ‘just the beginning’

Annalena Baerbock, the German federal foreign minister welcomed David Lammy, the British Foreign Secretary on his first trip abroad as minister
Annalena Baerbock, the German federal foreign minister welcomed David Lammy, the British Foreign Secretary on his first trip abroad as minister - THOMAS KOEHLER/COVER IMAGES

David Lammy has said his talks with EU nations this weekend are “just the beginning” of his attempt to “reset” relations with the bloc.

The new Foreign Secretary has embarked on a tour of Europe on his first overseas visit on the job, with trips to see his counterparts in Germany, Poland and Sweden.

Labour has insisted it has no intention of rejoining the EU single market or customs union or restoring free movement.

But the party does want to “improve” the UK-EU trade deal agreed by the Tories in 2020. In particular, Rachel Reeves, the Chancellor, has said that Labour would look to strike deals in the chemical and veterinary sectors.

Writing for The Local, a European news website, Mr Lammy said his talks over the weekend were “just the beginning” of Labour’s efforts to rebuild Britain’s partnership with the EU.

He said: “Over centuries, our individual and national stories have come together to tell a wider story of shared progress. 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.”

Mr Lammy vowed to 'reset relations with Europe as a reliable partner, a dependable ally and a good neighbour'
Mr Lammy vowed to 'reset relations with Europe as a reliable partner, a dependable ally and a good neighbour' - BEN DANCE/FCDO

This comes after Simon Harris, the Irish premier said the EU wanted to work more closely with Sir Keir Starmer, the new Prime Minister, on relations with the UK.

The Taoiseach said that there would be a “willingness” in Europe to work with a Labour government to deliver veterinary agreements and “student mobility”.

He told Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips: “Is there space to have a veterinary agreement, is there space in terms of student mobility, is there space to work closer together on issues? I think there absolutely is.

“And I do think there would be a willingness in Europe to have those conversations in due course, should that be the wish of the British government.”

Jonathan Reynolds, the Business Secretary, said that he welcomed the “constructive attitude” from European partners.

He told Sky: “We’ve got the same standards as the European Union, if we can sell more whiskey, more salmon, to a market which is so significant to us, of course we should explore an opportunity like that.”

But he insisted that the Government was not “open” to the free movement of people, insisting that they would not be “revisiting” the issue.

Putting Brexit years behind us

Mr Lammy, who voted Remain and advocated for a second Brexit referendum, said ahead of his trip that it was time to “put the Brexit years behind us”.

In his article for The Local, he vowed to “reset relations with Europe as a reliable partner, a dependable ally and a good neighbour”.

“That is why I am travelling immediately to some of our key European partners. Sitting down with Germany’s Annalena Baerbock, Poland’s Radek Sikorski and Sweden’s Tobias Billström, my message will be simple: let us seize the opportunity for a reset, working even more closely together to tackle shared challenges,” he said.

The Foreign Secretary also said Labour will “champion” EU holidays and school exchanges, which critics argue have been hindered by Brexit.

He said: “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 (I was of course cheering on England in the Euros…). Thanks to this, our citizens benefit from the rich diversity of our continent.”

Advertisement