British Queen celebrates


David Lammy’s first trip as Foreign Secretary, arranged at very short notice, is less about immediate outcomes and more about projecting an image of a fresh, energetic administration eager to

build goodwill with key UK partners.

After spending an evening with his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, where they managed to catch a few minutes of England’s European Championship quarter-final, Lammy's tour moved to the scenic estate of Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. Following a couple of hours of discussions, Lammy headed to Sweden, one of NATO’s newest members.

Focus on Key European Partners

The choice of Germany, Poland, and Sweden is strategic, particularly due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. These nations, alongside the UK, play crucial roles in supporting Kyiv. With new Defence Secretary John Healey in Odesa, the UK government is keen to emphasize its unwavering commitment to Ukraine. Healey announced the UK would provide more artillery guns, a quarter-of-a-million rounds of ammunition, and nearly 100 precision Brimstone missiles.

“There may have been a change in government, but the UK is united for Ukraine,” Healey said, pledging to "reinvigorate" support with increased military aid, aiming to fast-track reinforcements within the next 100 days. Lammy echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the UK's dedication to doubling down on its commitment to Ukraine.

Strengthening Bilateral Relations

While France and Brussels were not on this weekend’s agenda, Poland and Sweden are pivotal European partners and NATO allies. Lammy expressed his intent to reset both bilateral relationships and the UK's relationship with the European Union, hinting at Labour’s plan to negotiate a new EU-UK security pact.

During a visit to Edinburgh, Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer stated efforts were underway to improve the UK's relationship with the EU, aiming for a better deal than the one negotiated by Boris Johnson.

Preparing for the Future

As European leaders prepare to gather at Blenheim Palace on July 18 for the next meeting of the European Political Community, Lammy emphasized that this new spirit of cooperation would be evident.

Addressing Global Challenges

Lammy’s trip comes just before Starmer’s debut on the international stage at the NATO summit in Washington, D.C. Lammy acknowledged the complex geopolitical landscape, with rising nationalist sentiments in France and the potential return of Donald Trump in the US. He stressed the importance of distinguishing between disagreements among mature democracies and threats from authoritarian regimes, citing concerns over Iranian drones in Ukraine, North Korean shells in Europe, and Russia’s alliances with other authoritarian states.

Focus on Gaza

Lammy also highlighted the ongoing conflict in Gaza. In Germany, he called for a more balanced approach to Israel-Gaza, suggesting that ceasefire talks and efforts to revive the Arab-Israeli peace process would be a significant diplomatic focus in the coming months.

A Pragmatic Approach

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski noted that both the new Polish government and the incoming Starmer administration emerged from public fatigue with nationalist politics, expressing optimism for a more pragmatic UK-EU relationship. Sikorski hinted at “creative ideas” to further enhance this relationship. Photo by David Woolfall, Wikimedia commons.