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Britain’s new leader to receive crash course in statecraft

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No sooner has British Prime Minister Keir Starmer taken up his desk at 10 Downing Street this week than he will fly to Washington for a NATO summit. A week later he will host 50 European leaders for a security conference at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill.

It was a crash course in global statecraft for Mr Starmer. Britain’s first Labour prime minister in 14 yearsBut it will also give him the opportunity to present an unusual image of post-Brexit Britain: a stable, traditional, center-left country amid a wave of political turmoil among its allies.

In Washington, Mr Starmer will meet President Biden, who has rejected calls to give up his re-election bid because of his age. He will meet President Emmanuel Macron, who is trying to Fighting the far right France’s policy appears to be backfiring, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition government has been Weakened by the rise of the far right In the European Parliament elections.

Mr Starmer’s Labour success Some may hope that Britain’s embrace of center-left parties can be replicated in France and the United States. But it is equally possible that Britain could be a harbinger of something else: an uprising against the incumbent government and a simmering populism that is manifested in Britain as Rebellious Reform Partywhich can happen elsewhere. That’s what happened in 2016, when voters backed the UK’s Brexit referendum and six months later the US elected Donald Trump.

Analysts say the British turn to Labour was driven less by ideology than by fatigue with the Conservative government and a general distrust of political institutions. The same fatigue is felt in France, where the president is unpopular, and in the United States, where an aging Democratic president leads.

But for now, diplomats say Mr Starmer’s extraordinary electoral victory will make his political star shine brighter than fellow leaders, who have rarely enjoyed such triumphs in recent times.

“This huge victory means he will be warmly welcomed at the NATO summit,” said Kim Darroch, a former British ambassador to Washington. “Everyone will want to talk to him; everyone will want their picture taken with him.”

Depending on how the U.S. presidential election goes, Starmer may even find himself in a similar position in the future to another German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who was seen as a bulwark of the rules-based international order during Trump’s presidency.

However, Darroch said that if Starmer is to take on this responsibility, he must find a way to boost the British economy. Diplomatic strength is closely related to economic strength, and Britain’s weak economy – coupled with its Decision to leave the EU —weakened the country’s position in international affairs.

Darroch also said Starmer should overcome his reputation for caution and try bold action on Europe. He has ruled out rejoining the EU’s vast single economic market because that would mean allowing Europeans to live and work freely in Britain or in a customs union, which in turn would mean accepting some of the EU’s tariffs and tax rules.

Any grand deal will involve difficult trade-offs, but Starmer, who opposes Brexit, does not carry the baggage of the Leave campaign like his Conservative predecessor, Boris Johnson, who was known for his penchant for bickering with Europeans.

“Labor didn’t insult them the way they did the Conservatives,” said Darroch, a former British ambassador to the European Union. “He doesn’t have that legacy; he doesn’t have that baggage.”

Starmer travelled abroad extensively during his career as a human rights lawyer. But his expertise is not in foreign policy, and during the campaign he mainly sought to avoid major clashes with the Conservative government on the two biggest issues of the day: the war in Ukraine and the war in Gaza.

Starmer pledged to maintain Britain’s military support for Ukraine, which it has provided since the start of the war. As Labour leader, Starmer has struggled to move away from the hostility towards NATO and suspicion of the military that developed under his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.

“One of the worst things about Corbyn’s time in office was that he had no commitment to Nato, no commitment to defence, and people didn’t like that,” said Robert Ford, professor of politics at the University of Manchester.

Israel and Gaza were a more thorny issue for Starmer. He had called for a ceasefire but it took a while for that to happen, angering the left wing of the Labour Party as well as its Muslim supporters.

The election response was beyond expectations. Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth, who was expected to be appointed to Starmer’s cabinet, unexpectedly lost his seat in Leicester South to independent candidate Shawkat Adam, who declared:This is for the people of Gaza” in his victory speech.

Even Starmer’s share of the vote in North London A decrease of 17 percentage points Compared to the 2019 election, This was partly due to a challenge from an independent who expressed anger at Labour’s stance on Israel and the war in Gaza.

Israel is likely to continue to irritate Mr. Starmer, just as it has irritated Mr. Biden and Mr. Macron. Both have been criticized for siding with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for too long and for not more forcefully condemning Israel’s war in Gaza.

David Lammy, who was appointed foreign secretary by Starmer on Friday, said his boss’s attitude to the war was influenced by his background as a human rights lawyer. An interview in April Mr Starmer will continue to support Israel but demand it abide by international law.

“The situation in Gaza is hell on earth,” Mr Lammy said. “Man-made famine, no significant medical assistance, people eating cactus. Labour is doing its best as an opposition party.”

Mr Lammy said a Labour government would blend progressive values ​​with a realistic worldview – something he called “progressive realism”.

“There was a lot of fantasy under Boris Johnson, Theresa May, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak,” Mr Lammy said, referring to the four Conservative prime ministers who preceded Mr Starmer. “They were reminiscent of an era long gone and not focused enough on the challenges of the present.”

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