Lammy Begins Diplomatic Tour to Strengthen UK’s European Relations

David Lammy’s whirlwind first trip as Foreign Secretary, organized at very short notice, is not about instant results or even brave new horizons. It is all about perception – the appearance of a new, vigorous administration determined to hit the ground running, brimming with goodwill towards some of the UK’s most important partners.

After an evening spent with his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock – during which they found time to watch a few minutes of England’s European Championship quarter-final – Mr. Lammy’s tour moved to the bucolic surroundings of the country estate of Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. After a couple of hours of talks, it was back on the plane for a short flight north to one of NATO’s newest members, Sweden.

Why Germany, Poland, and Sweden? Partly because of Ukraine. Along with Britain, all three countries play important roles in sustaining Kyiv’s war effort. With the new Defence Secretary John Healey on the ground in Odesa, Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer’s government is keen to stress that the UK’s commitment to Ukraine will remain rock solid.

Following a meeting with President Zelensky and his counterpart Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, Mr. Healey said the UK would provide more artillery guns, a quarter-of-a-million ammunition rounds, and nearly 100 precision Brimstone missiles.

“There may have been a change in government, but the UK is united for Ukraine,” he said, promising to “reinvigorate” support via increased military aid. He also pledged to fast-track the reinforcements to ensure they arrive within the next 100 days.

“We want to double down on our commitment to Ukraine,” Mr. Lammy said, as dragonflies swooped over a tranquil lake and a pair of majestic eagles circled overhead.

France, in the midst of its own election with potentially far-reaching consequences, was not on the itinerary this weekend. Nor was there a stop in Brussels, as Sir Keir Starmer has stated that the UK will not rejoin the EU “in my lifetime”.

However, Poland and Sweden are both key European partners and fellow NATO members, making them strategic choices for the Foreign Secretary to begin exploring closer future relations.

“I want to reset both our bilateral relationship and our relationship with the European Union,” Mr. Lammy said, referencing Labour’s commitment to negotiating a new EU-UK security pact.

Meanwhile, during a visit to Edinburgh on Sunday, the Prime Minister emphasized that efforts were already underway to improve the UK’s relationship with the EU. He asserted that his government “can get a much better deal than the botched deal that Boris Johnson saddled the UK with”.

Mr. Lammy also highlighted that when European leaders gather at Blenheim Palace on 18 July for the next meeting of the European Political Community (established by Emmanuel Macron following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine), “the new spirit of cooperation will be on display”.

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