Keir Starmer has said he “will have to make it work” with Donald Trump if they are both elected to power in the UK and US at their next elections.
The Labour leader said the challenges around the world “are too great” and that the “important, special relationship” between the two countries must be maintained. A US general election is due in November next year, while a UK one will take place sometime before January 2025, likely in either Spring or Autumn next year.
Mr Starmer, who appeared on the BBC’s Political Thinking with Nick Robinson podcast, was pressed about his relationship with international leaders. He has recently visited France’s Emmanuel Macron and Canada’s Justin Trudeau.
Laurent Blevennec / Présidence de la République)
Asked about whether Mr Trump being elected again would be a challenge for a Labour government, Mr Starmer said: “We have to make it work and I think that is where any incoming Labour government would want to be. The challenges in the world are too great. This relationship between the UK and the US has been such a strong relationship for so many years and an important, special relationship that we have to make it work.”
Mr Trump has triggered fears he could slash help for Ukraine if he wins next year’s presidential race, claiming he could end the war in 24 hours without saying how. Pressed on this point, the Labour leader said: “We have to make it work – that doesn’t mean we would agree on everything but we have to make it work. I think one of the things about being a leader is you don’t get to choose the other leaders around the world. That is the job of democracies around the world, where there are democracies. But in a grown up world you have to make that relationship work.”
Elsewhere in the interview Mr Starmer spoke about his relationship with former US President Barack Obama, who he described as a “keen student of UK politics” who is watching “very carefully”. “I think you can always learn from people who win, how they did it, what the challenges were as they won and then when they came into power,” he said. “I find it quite helpful to talk to people outside the bubble, if you like. We’ve got an intense bubble around Westminster – but even within the Labour team, we’re working as one team, we’re working hot, it’s hard and we’re all thinking together and sometimes having a line of sight from someone outside of that is really helpful.”
Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey last week told the Mirror he believed the “special relationship” between Britain and America can withstand Mr Trump returning to the White House. He insisted the deep ties between the UK and US were stronger than any personality. “What’s more important than any Prime Minister or any President at any one time is the strength and depth of that relationship,” he said.
“It goes back more than six decades on nuclear sharing, it’s hardwired into our intelligence services, the sharing of military technology – not just joint exercising but doctrines as well. It’s got a long-term resilience that has always allowed that UK-US essential cooperation … to ride through the ups and downs of political cycles, either on the US side or the UK side.”