UK Labour party outlines its vision for government

Confident of taking power at the next UK general election, the Labour party is setting out its vision to the country's allies with vows of reconnecting with Europe after Brexit and delivering economic competence.

Last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and this week with a set-piece foreign policy speech, Labour bigwigs are globalising their fight against the crisis-ridden Conservatives.

The centre-left party -- a political force under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from 1997 to 2010 -- promises continuity on the Conservatives' unflinching support for Ukraine, along with scepticism towards China.

But in general, Labour's would-be foreign secretary David Lammy attacked the Conservatives' "ideological leadership and reckless choices", vowing to "fix the Tories' bad Brexit deal".

"It doesn't have to be this way," he told European and other foreign diplomats on Tuesday at the Chatham House international affairs think-tank in London.

"The UK is home to cutting-edge technology and services, world-leading universities, vibrant cultural industries, and it has the potential for unparalleled global connections.

"Labour will reset our foreign policy to create a 'Britain Reconnected', for security and prosperity at home," Lammy said.

However, both Lammy and Labour leader Keir Starmer are ruling out the ultimate reconnection -- taking the UK back into the European Union, or at least its single market.

Labour argues that the 2016 Brexit referendum settled that debate, and EU allies themselves would rather the UK gets on with building permanent new arrangements free of the never-ending rancour that characterised the Conservatives' approach to Brussels.

Labour's slogan contrasts with the "Global Britain" promised by Boris Johnson when he took the country out of the EU at the start of 2020.

But trade deals promised by Johnson and his short-lived successor Liz Truss have done little to compensate for the loss of the UK's friction-free relationship with its biggest markets across the Channel.

Johnson's many scandals, and a disastrous economic experiment launched by Truss during her September-October tenure, left the UK a "joke" abroad, Lammy argued.

- 'Mission statement' -

After Johnson and Truss, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is trying to steady the ship financially while also reaching out to the EU in a bid to overhaul contentious post-Brexit trading rules for Northern Ireland.

But with inflation in double digits, strikes crippling key sectors, and many Britons enduring cold and hunger this winter, all opinion polls point to a Labour triumph -- and potential Tory wipeout -- at the next general election.

With the vote likely next year, Labour knows it needs to be ready with credible policies for home and abroad.

At Davos, Starmer called for a "clean power alliance" of countries to fight climate change and bring down sky-high energy prices.

The alliance would be an "inverse OPEC", he told financial big-hitters in the Swiss Alps, referring to the cartel of oil-producing countries.

Starmer also criticised Sunak for failing to come to Davos this year, stressing that his own presence and that of shadow finance minister Rachel Reeves showed "the United Kingdom will play its part on the global stage in a way I think it probably hasn't in recent years".

Lammy vowed a new security pact with the EU, and to restore the UK to the bloc's "Horizon" programme for scientific collaboration, pending a wider review of the two sides' Brexit trade treaty in 2025.

And he promised a new "mission statement" for the UK foreign office to deal with challenges from cyber governance to artificial intelligence.

The Conservative government said there was nothing new in Lammy's vision.

"We are focusing on promoting our values with a broader range of countries to help them become more resilient against threats, including from climate change, disease and hostile states," a foreign office spokesman said.

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