Starmer: PM spent recent years “courting the idea he is Britain’s Trump”

Sienna Rodgers
© ComposedPix/

Keir Starmer will use his first full remarks on UK foreign policy since being elected Labour leader to launch a blistering attack on Boris Johnson, accusing the Prime Minister of “courting the idea that he is Britain’s Trump”.

Speaking at the virtual Fabian Society conference on Saturday, Starmer will criticise Johnson’s record on foreign affairs and say that he has spent recent years “cosying up to people who don’t have Britain’s interests at heart”.

The strong supporter of election winner Joe Biden will say of the US Presidential inauguration next week: “This isn’t a normal transition of power from one President to another. The pictures on our TVs in the last few weeks make that clear.

“The US is more divided than at any time I can remember. Amid all that, this is a moment of huge optimism, of hope winning out over hate. And it can also be a turning point. Not just in America but also for Britain’s relationship with the US and for global politics.”

Starmer will make the case in his speech at the conference that Britain “is at is strongest” when it is “the bridge between the US and the rest of Europe”, and say he is “incredibly optimistic about the new relationship we can build” with the US.

Setting out his vision for Britain as a “moral force for good in the world”, the UK opposition leader is expected to describe himself as “Pro-American but anti-Trump” while accusing the ruling Tories of overseeing “a decade of global retreat”.

Ahead of the inauguration on Wednesday, when Biden will be sworn in as the 46th US President, Starmer will express support for a fresh US-UK relationship with a “strong future together, on everything from security, climate change, aid and trade”.

He will also reference the work of Labour Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair on global poverty and the financial crisis when calling on Johnson to take a bold approach to rebuilding the country after the pandemic.

The Labour leader will urge the government to use Britain’s turn at hosting the G7 this year as a “huge opportunity to shape the recovery, to bring countries together in order to rebuild our economy and to repair our climate”.

On the UK’s future relationship with the European Union, he will add: “I want that to be a close economic relationship, rooted in our values, based on high standards and with protections for businesses, for working people and the environment.

“Of course, Boris Johnson will never do that, he wants something completely different from Brexit. And we’re already seeing that workers’ rights are at risk, the 48-hour week and the working time directive could be ripped up.”

Labour and trade unions reacted with fury after The Financial Times reported that a proposed package of post-Brexit deregulatory measures likely to please many Tory MPs is being put together by the Department for Business.

The measures include ending the 48-hour working week, “tweaking” rights to rest breaks at work, not including overtime pay in holiday pay entitlement calculations and scrapping the need for businesses to log detailed daily reporting of working hours.

The FEPS-Fabian Society new year conference takes place online on Saturday, January 16th, and Sunday, January 17th.

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