Lammy: Be nice, don’t fight with Britain’s allies

Shadow foreign secretary condemns the Government’s proposals to unilaterally scrap parts of Northern Ireland Protocol as ‘entirely unacceptable’.

26 September 2022

The shadow foreign secretary has accused the Tories of “getting into fights” with Britain’s allies as he pledged to rebuild relations with France and Ireland if Labour gets into power.

David Lammy condemned the Government’s proposals to unilaterally scrap parts of Northern Ireland Protocol as “entirely unacceptable”, as he suggested the key starting point to diplomacy is to “be nice”.

“Getting into fights with our close allies and partners, I’m thinking here principally of the Irish, describing the French as our enemy or our foe, this is unrecognisable in terms of the geopolitics of Europe at this time,” he said.

“We in this country have got to be in a position where we’re rebuilding relations with our allies.

“This is a time to huddle together. It’s not a time to pull apart.”

Speaking at a Labour fringe event hosted by the Electoral Reform Society, the MP for Tottenham said Labour would “not be picking fights unnecessarily with our European allies”.

“We would not be engaged in the (Northern Ireland) Protocol Bill,” he said.

“We would not be picking fights unnecessarily with our European allies.

Liz Truss and Emmanuel Macron
Prime Minister Liz Truss holds a bilateral meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron in the US (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“We would be re-mending fences, for example with the Irish, we would be re-mending fences with the French.

“Of course you want the European Union to show the flexibility, it has to show flexibility around issues that have come up after our exiting the European Union.

“But let us do that from a basis of trust and friendship and a sense of that trust, I think, that is at an all time low that we would have to mend.”

Asked by the PA news agency how he would go about rebuilding relations with France in particular, given Liz Truss’s recent suggestion “the jury’s out” on whether president Emmanuel Macron is “friend or foe”, he said the “starting point of any diplomacy” is to “be nice”.

“The starting point of diplomacy is trust, be consistent,” he added.

“I think that the summit that Macron has proposed for Liz Truss to attend, she should go to.

“But there’s a big question about why she’s not coming forward with proposals and initiatives, why there hasn’t been a summit with the European Union for several years.”

Mr Lammy also stressed that Britain must “break the link with authoritarians abroad”, adding that he was “disturbed” by former PM Boris Johnson “running to Saudi Arabia to get an oil deal”.

He added that it was a “huge mistake” to cut the aid budget, as he warned against playing to “the populist rhetoric”.

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