Sir Keir Starmer speaks to ITV News Europe Editor James Mates about his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and his plans if Labour win the next general election
Sir Keir Starmer says he held "very constructive" talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and kicked off the chat by gifting him an Arsenal shirt.
In a bid to forge a closer relationship between the two countries if Labour comes to power, the party leader travelled to Paris for talks with Macron on Tuesday.
Sir Keir said the pair shared interests including “future prosperity and security” and he said the talks covered a “wide range of topics” relating to global politics.
The pair broke the ice with an exchange of gifts that saw Sir Keir give the president a personalised Arsenal shirt and receive cufflinks. Macron supports French team Olympique de Marseille.
“We had a very constructive and positive meeting, which as you can imagine covered a wide range of issues,” he said.
He told ITV News: “It was my first opportunity to say how much I value the relationship between our two countries, especially in the fields of prosperity and security, and to share my ideas and thinking about how we could collaborate even more closely if we're lucky enough to win the next general election."
While he did not say whether he believed President Macron was hoping Labour would win the next election, he did say it was important they got to know one another.
He added he was “very pleased with the outcome”.
Sir Keir's plans to strengthen ties with France and the EU have been met with warnings from experts that they would face challenges if he comes to power.
It comes as Starmer said he wanted to look at The Trade and Cooperation Agreement and would want a "much better" Brexit deal if Labour comes to power.
While he wants a closer relationship with the EU, he said Labour won’t reverse Brexit if they win a general election, which is due by the end of next year.
He told ITV News: " We have to earn every single vote so my first priority and focus is to win that general election. "Nobody pretends that this is easy or quick but we need to have a centre focus on our economy and that will be the number one focus on a Labour Party coming in to power."
Anand Menon, director of UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE), said: “Keir Starmer’s desire to secure a ‘much better’ Brexit deal for the UK is all well and good.
“However, he failed to explain how tinkering with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement will make a meaningful economic difference. Moreover, he runs the risk of demanding more than the European Union is willing to give.
“The UK is not a priority for the EU, which remains relatively happy with the TCA. The key for a Labour government will be figuring out a way to provide the EU with an incentive to restart negotiations over Brexit.”
In its report, UKICE says Labour would need to set out a “much more detailed plan to demonstrate it is a serious negotiating partner with a realistic grasp of the issues at hand” and refine its “long list of ideas” into a more coherent set of goals.
Sir Keir’s visit to Paris is the latest in a flurry of international engagements undertaken by Labour as the party leadership seeks to raise its profile on the global stage ahead of a likely general election next year.
Coinciding with his trip will be an appearance from shadow defence secretary John Healey in Washington DC, where he will make a speech calling on the US and UK to “work together” to defend democracy.
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