What will UK foreign policy look like under Labour?

What will UK foreign policy look like under Labour?
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria arrive to cast their votes at a polling station in London on July 4, 2024 as Britain holds a general election. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 05 July 2024
Follow

What will UK foreign policy look like under Labour?

What will UK foreign policy look like under Labour?

LONDON: The first month of a Keir Starmer premiership will be a whirlwind of international diplomacy including meetings with US President Joe Biden and European leaders.

His first steps on the world stage will be just days away, at the NATO 75th anniversary summit being held in Washington next Tuesday to Thursday.

Starmer will then play host at Blenheim Palace, near Oxford, in central England, on July 18, at a European Political Community meeting, with France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz expected.

Labour, out of power since 2010, has pledged a foreign policy of “progressive realism,” seeing a more volatile world “as it is not as we would want it to be,” said David Lammy, who is expected to become foreign secretary.

The party has also pledged to “make Brexit work” and seek “an ambitious” security pact with the the European Union.

Here is a rundown of how a Labour government could approach the major international issues it faces.

Labour would undertake a “full audit” across all government departments of the UK’s relationship with China to “set the direction and course” of its China policy, Lammy told reporters this week.

Starmer last year said the UK needed to “wean itself off” China on issues like trade, commerce and technology while acknowledging the importance of being able to cooperate on issues such as tackling climate change.

The challenge will be to balance the UK’s trade and economic interests with security imperatives.

That could be complicated by a possible return of Donald Trump in Washington after the US presidential election in November.

Trump would be expected to ramp up pressure on allies to be tougher with Beijing.

Labour says it is committed to recognizing a Palestinian state “as a contribution to a renewed peace process which results in a two-state solution.”

But it has not set out any timescale for doing so.

Other commitments include pushing for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages and an increase in the amount of aid getting into Gaza.

Starmer has pledged to work with France’s far-right National Rally (RN) party if it wins power.

“I will work with any government in Europe and across the world if we are elected... For me, that’s what serious government is about,” he said.

He said both bilateral deals with France and agreements with the whole EU, which the UK voted to leave in 2016 leading to a messy divorce, were important to address the issue of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.

Pressed on RN leader Marine Le Pen’s preference for bilateral deals over EU-wide ones, Starmer said the two were not mutually exclusive.

He said existing bilateral agreements with France needed to be strengthened and improved “particularly in relation to smashing the gangs that are running the vile trade of putting people into boats.”

“But there are also EU measures,” he added. “The security agreement we want with the EU when it comes to dealing with smuggling gangs is really important.”

The UK has been one of Kyiv’s staunchest supporters and has provided money, weapons and troop training to help it repel Russia’s invasion.

Labour have stressed continued support for Ukraine if they win, and Starmer would be expected to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky early to reaffirm that message in person.

Starmer has said a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is “simply not an issue” at the moment and described him as “the aggressor in Ukraine.”

“The most important thing is to be absolutely clear that our support for Ukraine is on a united front in this country,” he said.

A strategic defense review would be carried out within the first year of government to set out a path to an increase in defense spending to 2.5 percent of GDP.


Harris assails Trump, promises compassion over chaos in debut rally

Vice President Kamala Harris waves before boarding Air Force Two as she departs on campaign travel to Milwaukee, Wisc.
Vice President Kamala Harris waves before boarding Air Force Two as she departs on campaign travel to Milwaukee, Wisc.
Updated 4 sec ago
Follow

Harris assails Trump, promises compassion over chaos in debut rally

Vice President Kamala Harris waves before boarding Air Force Two as she departs on campaign travel to Milwaukee, Wisc.
  • Harris led Trump 44 percent to 42 percent among registered voters in the national Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted on Monday and Tuesday
  • Harris’ rise dramatically reshapes an election in which many voters were unhappy with their options

MILWAUKEE: Vice President Kamala Harris assailed Donald Trump on Tuesday at her first campaign rally since replacing President Joe Biden as the Democratic presidential candidate, while a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll showed her taking a marginal lead over Trump, the Republican nominee.
“In this campaign, I promise you I will proudly put my record against his any day of the week,” she told a cheering crowd of several thousands at West Allis Central High School in a Milwaukee suburb in Wisconsin, a crucial battleground state in the Nov. 5 election.
“Do we want to live in a country of freedom, compassion and rule of law, or a country of chaos, fear and hate?” she asked.
Harris led Trump 44 percent to 42 percent among registered voters in the national Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted on Monday and Tuesday after Biden dropped out of the contest on Sunday and endorsed Harris as his successor.
Previous surveys taken before Biden’s exit found Harris and Trump tied at 44 percent a week ago and Trump ahead of her by a percentage point at the beginning of the month.
In all three cases, the difference was within the poll’s 3-point margin of error, but the results could signal some limited movement in Democrats’ direction — and may suggest that Harris’ elevation to the top of the ticket blunted whatever momentum Trump may have gained from last week’s Republican National Convention, also in Milwaukee.
Harris swiftly consolidated her party’s support after Biden, 81, abandoned his reelection campaign under pressure from members of his party who worried about his ability to beat Trump or to serve for another four-year term.
She wrapped up the nomination on Monday night by winning pledges from a majority of the delegates who at next month’s party convention will determine the nominee, the campaign said.
Most Democratic lawmakers have lined up behind her candidacy, including the party’s leaders in the Senate and House, Chuck Schumer and Hakeem Jeffries, who endorsed Harris on Tuesday at a joint press conference.
An unofficial survey of delegates by the Associated Press showed Harris with more than 2,500 delegates, well over the 1,976 needed for the nomination. Delegates could still change their minds, but no one else received any votes in the AP survey; 54 delegates said they were undecided.
Harris’ rise dramatically reshapes an election in which many voters were unhappy with their options.
Saddled with concerns that included his health and persistent high prices crimping Americans’ household finances, Biden had been losing ground against Trump in opinion polls, particularly in the competitive states that are likely to decide the election, including Wisconsin and the Sun Belt states of Arizona and Nevada.

CAMPAIGN RESET
The Wisconsin event offered another opportunity for Harris, the first Black woman and Asian American to serve as vice president, to reset the Democrats’ campaign.
Harris has been raking in campaign contributions. Her campaign said on Monday she had raised $100 million since Sunday, topping the $95 million that the Biden campaign had in the bank at the end of June.
While a wave of senior Democrats have lined up behind Harris, the racial justice group Black Lives Matter on Tuesday challenged the party’s swift move.
It called for a national virtual snap primary ahead of the Aug. 19-22 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where the party will formally nominate its candidate.
“We call for the Rules Committee to create a process that allows for public participation in the nomination process, not just a nomination by party delegates,” Black Lives Matter said in a statement to Reuters.
RUST BELT PUSH
Biden said on X that he would deliver a speech on Wednesday night from the Oval Office explaining his decision to end his campaign. He was returning to Washington on Tuesday after spending several days in isolation at home with COVID-19. The president has tested negative and no longer has symptoms, the White House doctor said in a letter on Tuesday.
Biden’s dramatic exit followed Trump’s narrow survival of a July 13 assassination attempt that raised questions about security failures in the US Secret Service. The agency director, Kimberly Cheatle, resigned on Tuesday after numerous lawmakers called for her to step down.
Trump and his allies have tried to tether Harris to some of Biden’s more unpopular policies, including his administration’s handling of the surge of migrants at the southern border with Mexico.
“Kamala Harris’ dismal record is one of complete failure and utter incompetence. Her policies are Biden’s policies, and vice versa,” Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said.
Wisconsin is among a trio of Rust Belt states, along with Michigan and Pennsylvania, that are critical for Democrats’ chances of defeating Trump.
“There are independents and young people who did not like their choices, and Harris has a chance to win them,” said Paul Kendrick, executive director of the Democratic group Rust Belt Rising.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, a Democrat, said Harris could also help bring back crucial Black voters.
“Many of them didn’t come along because they were distracted by his (Biden’s) age, distracted by his appearance,” he said.
Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison, in an interview on NBC’s “Today” program, said the party had to move quickly to get the ticket on ballots in all 50 states, and that the vice presidential pick needed to be made by Aug. 7.
“This process is going to be fair, transparent, open but it’s going to be fast,” Harrison said.
Potential running mates include Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, according to people familiar with internal policy discussions.


Ukrainian drone damages ferry in Russian port, one person dead, says regional governor

Ukrainian drone damages ferry in Russian port, one person dead, says regional governor
Updated 23 July 2024
Follow

Ukrainian drone damages ferry in Russian port, one person dead, says regional governor

Ukrainian drone damages ferry in Russian port, one person dead, says regional governor
  • A fire at the port resulting from the drone strike was later extinguished
  • Port Kavkaz is located on a spit of land opposite the Crimean Peninsula

MOSCOW: A Ukrainian drone attack damaged a ferry and killed one person in Port Kavkaz in Russia’s southern Krasnodar region, regional governor Veniamin Kondratyev said on Tuesday on the Telegram messaging app.
The Ukrainian military, also posting on Telegram, said the attack had “significantly damaged” the “Slavianin” which it described as the last railway ferry Russia had been using for military purposes in the region.
“The occupiers used this ferry to transport railway cars, vehicles, and containers for military purposes,” Ukraine’s General Staff said.
A fire at the port resulting from the drone strike was later extinguished, the RIA state news agency reported, citing an emergency services source.
Reuters could not immediately confirm accounts of the attack from either side.
Port Kavkaz is located on a spit of land opposite the Crimean Peninsula. Ferries based there help to connect Russia’s mainland with Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Russia also ships oil and grain exports from the port across the Black Sea. In May, the Ukrainian military said it had struck Port Kavkaz’s oil terminal with missiles.


Sicily’s Catania airport reopens after Etna eruption

Sicily’s Catania airport reopens after Etna eruption
Updated 23 July 2024
Follow

Sicily’s Catania airport reopens after Etna eruption

Sicily’s Catania airport reopens after Etna eruption
  • All flights would resume from 10pm
  • The airport had suspended all flights earlier Tuesday “due to eruptions and ash emissions“

ROME: The airport at Catania in Sicily, a top Italian tourist destination, reopened late Tuesday afternoon after suspending all flights when an eruption at nearby Mount Etna spewed volcanic ash.
Millions of passengers pass every year through Catania International Airport, which serves the eastern part of Sicily with tourist sites such as Syracuse and Taormina.
“Due to the decrease in volcanic activity, flight operations will resume,” the airport operator wrote on X.
Departures resumed from 6pm (1600gmt), while four arrivals per hour would be allowed from 8pm (1800gmt), it said.
All flights would resume from 10pm (2000gmt), it added.
The airport had suspended all flights earlier Tuesday “due to eruptions and ash emissions.”
That message was posted with a warning image of Mount Etna with the text “high intensity” and “volcanic activity in progress” overlayed.
The National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said the ash column had reached an altitude of eight kilometers (five miles).
At 3,324 meters (nearly 11,000 feet), Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe and has erupted frequently in the past 500,000 years.
Catania airport was last closed on July 5 due to an eruption.


Poll says 32 percent of Ukrainians open to territorial concessions for quick peace

Poll says 32 percent of Ukrainians open to territorial concessions for quick peace
Updated 23 July 2024
Follow

Poll says 32 percent of Ukrainians open to territorial concessions for quick peace

Poll says 32 percent of Ukrainians open to territorial concessions for quick peace
  • The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology said 55 percent of Ukrainians remain opposed to making any territorial concessions
  • Nearly 29 months since its full-scale invasion, Russia occupies around 18 percent of Ukrainian territory

KYIV: Nearly a third of Ukrainians would accept some territorial concessions to Russia for a quick end to the war, a more than three-fold increase over the past year, although most still oppose giving up any land, a poll showed on Tuesday.
The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology said its poll of 1,067 people on Ukrainian-held territory from May 16-22 found that 32 percent would agree to some form of territorial concessions, up from just 10 percent a year earlier and 19 percent at the end of last year.
It said 55 percent of Ukrainians remain opposed to making any territorial concessions.
Nearly 29 months since its full-scale invasion, Russia occupies around 18 percent of Ukrainian territory, including the Crimean peninsula it seized in 2014. Kyiv’s troops have been on the back foot this year facing a Russian offensive after their counteroffensive failed to make significant gains last year.
The survey did not ask those polled what territorial concessions they would be open to or how large they should be. KIIS said those polled did not necessarily see concessions as equating to recognizing the territory as Russian.
“For example, some people are ready to postpone the liberation of certain territories until the future at a better time,” KIIS said in a statement with its findings.
Russia in 2022 unilaterally declared it had annexed the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, which it partially controls.
In remarks published alongside the survey, KIIS’s executive director, Anton Hrushetskyi, said Ukrainians remained against the idea of reaching a peace settlement with Russia at any cost.
“It’s ... important that in the context of possible ‘concessions’, Ukrainians are against ‘peace on any terms’,” he said.


Digital Cooperation Organization calls for urgent talks on recent global IT outage implications

Digital Cooperation Organization calls for urgent talks on recent global IT outage implications
Updated 23 July 2024
Follow

Digital Cooperation Organization calls for urgent talks on recent global IT outage implications

Digital Cooperation Organization calls for urgent talks on recent global IT outage implications
  • The DCO, which includes Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and 14 other states, is the world’s first standalone intergovernmental body on digital economy
  • The DCO secretariat states the high level of impact the world witnessed as a result of the outage is ‘alarming’ and requires ‘agile’ cooperation

RIYADH: The Digital Cooperation Organization’s (DCO) General Secretariat said in a statement that it will hold urgent discussions with its Member States and digital economy experts to address the implications of the global IT outage that disrupted vital operations around the world, affecting critical business sectors like aviation, banking, broadcast media, software providers, and more.
The DCO General Secretariat states that “the high level of impact the world witnessed as a result of the unfortunate outage is alarming and indicates the dire need for a more effective and agile international digital cooperation.” The incident raised questions on continuity and sustainability in a world rapidly moving toward being highly dependent on digital channels and platforms. It is very crucial that the international community develops proper policies and protocols to mitigate the risks of such incidents and ensure the continuity of essential operations.
To this end, the DCO General Secretariat has called for an urgent deliberation for its Member States and digital economy experts to capture the lessons learned from this incident, assess its impact on national digital transformation plans in Member States, and plan practical steps to ensure that relevant stakeholders across sectors are aligned and ready to deal with such mishaps.
The Digital Cooperation Organization is the world’s first standalone international intergovernmental organization focusing on the acceleration of the growth of an inclusive and sustainable digital economy. It is a global multilateral organization founded in November 2020 that aims to enable digital prosperity for all.
The 16 DCO Member States include the Kingdom of Bahrain, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Djibouti, the Republic of The Gambia, the Republic of Ghana, the Hellenic Republic (Greece), the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Kuwait, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Sultanate of Oman, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the State of Qatar, the Republic of Rwanda, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — collectively representing nearly $3.5 trillion in GDP and a market of nearly 800 million people, more than 70 percent of whom are under the age of 35.