Taking to the streets of downtown Montreal, Sir Keir Starmer insisted he was not complacent about Britain’s Labor Party’s electoral victory. But with some polls showing his party leading the Conservatives by 20 percentage points or more, he is starting to look beyond the political horizon.

“I see this as an opportunity to advance,” he said from the eighth floor of the four-star Westin Hotel in Canada’s second-largest city. Voters in Britain and the United States could cast decisive votes for center-left governments in 2024, he added. “Obviously (U.S. President) Joe Biden is a big part of that.”

Twenty-five years after then Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair and US Democratic President Bill Clinton announced their “Third Way”, Starmer attended a center-left gathering dubbed a “left-wing secret meeting” by the British press Politician summit.

For Starmer, the Global Progressive Action Conference was a rite of passage: with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Sanna Marin, former Finnish Prime Minister and Dutch Prime Minister hopeful Frans Timmermans and others Together the minister and Blair himself were on the world stage.

For the protagonists, the key is how to translate “progressive” policies on issues such as climate change, immigration and active industrial policy into votes, with the center-left often being pushed to the back foot by populist parties for years. .

The fact that Trudeau is in trouble at home is a reminder of the problems on the center-left. Germany’s Olaf Scholz and Australia’s Anthony Albanese also encountered difficulties. As for Biden, Donald Trump is a phantom hanging over the Montreal event.

But Starmer has attracted a lot of interest.Labor Party Strong lead in polls That undoubtedly helped him win a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday. The Labor leader exuded confidence in an interview with the Financial Times.

As he describes his plans to revive Britain’s economy and world standing, he has set his sights on a general election expected in the autumn of 2024. “It could take five or 10 years,” he said. “I have to admit that this could be more than one term of Labor government.”

Starmer’s theme in Montreal was how to deal with the “axis of insecurity”, covering issues such as the cost of living crisis, the war in Ukraine and climate change. He insists Labor has the best answers to all three questions.

On the economic front, he wants to work with business to develop an industrial strategy, develop a green economy and spread wealth across the UK, and rebuild relations with Brussels, seeking to renegotiate the post-Brexit trade deal when it is reviewed in 2025. .

“Many, many global investors have said to me, ‘The UK is no longer at the table, not part of the discussion’. Those global investors who are looking at the UK are saying ‘not yet, it’s not stable enough’,” he explained .

He said Labor was already working with business to develop an industrial strategy. “It’s not just a coffee morning,” he said. “They are having high-level discussions about the partnership that we are going to have.”

Keir Starmer and Jonas Gahr Støre in panel discussion
Keir Starmer (right) holds a panel discussion with Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gall Storr at the summit ©Getty Images

In reviving Britain’s relationship with the EU, he will have to overcome not only criticism from the ruling Conservative Party that he seeks to ease Brexit, but also skepticism in Brussels about the desirability of any revised trade deal.

However, a new European Commission will be elected in 2024 and a UK general election must be held by January 2025, potentially creating a new line-up of politicians to revisit post-Brexit solutions.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says he has significantly improved Britain’s relations with other countries, including the United States, France and the European Union itself, after a tumultuous tenure as Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Starmer admitted that Sunak had done some work and reached an improved agreement with the EU on Northern Ireland and scientific cooperation; on Ukraine, Starmer said that he agreed with Sunak on President Zelensky strong support.

Starmer also said the Labor government would not depart from Sunak’s policy of engaging with China while seeking to limit security risks. “When the administration says China is a global strategic challenge, I agree with that,” he said.

The Labor leader admitted he needed to be clearer about what his party would do in government.

The task will become even more urgent at the party’s annual conference in Liverpool next month. “The question we need to answer is: ‘If not them, why Labour? “This is the core question we want to answer when we go into the meeting,” Starmer said. “

“What I wanted to do in the session was reject the notion that assurance and hope are distinct and mutually exclusive ideas and weld them together.”

“It’s not entirely accurate to say we don’t have any plans,” Starmer said, but a large number of Labour’s policies remained unclear. The potential risks of fleshing out the government’s plans were illustrated last week when he announced his cross-Channel immigration policy.

The Labor leader said he would “crush” people smuggling gangs through greater pan-European police co-operation – he believes they can be stopped and their boats confiscated – but more media attention has been drawn to the possibility that Labor and police return agreement reached. European Union.

Starmer said he would never propose some sort of burden-sharing deal planned by EU member states – which the Conservatives said would turn the UK into a “dumping ground” for asylum seekers from other countries.

“The EU quota scheme is barely working,” he said. “That’s for EU member states and we don’t want to be part of that.” He said the Conservatives’ claims to the contrary were “rubbish” and that any payback deal would be bespoke and much smaller.

At the same time, Starmer agreed with Trudeau that “progressive” politicians must demonstrate that their concerns and policy prescriptions are not irrelevant to the lives of working people.

“Yes, there is a danger – and he’s right,” Starmer said. “I’ve already mentioned it. In Britain, I’ve always thought we were too far removed from working people.”

Starmer’s challenge is to convince British voters that a “moment of progress” reflected over tapas in a luxury hotel in Montreal means something to them.

Video: Politics Sketchy: Starmer’s path to power


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