Europe 1 with AFP // Photo credits: Kiran Ridley / GETTY IMAGES EUROPE / Getty Images via AFP 16:04 p.m., September 19, 2023

On the eve of King Charles III's state visit to France, British opposition leader Keir Starmer met with Emmanuel Macron in Paris. This bilateral meeting of about 45 minutes away from the cameras with the French president is described by the British press as a good "coup" for Keir Starmer.

Emmanuel Macron received on Tuesday the leader of the British opposition Keir Starmer, who is trying to forge links on the international scene in view of the next general elections in which his Labour Party is given favorite. This bilateral meeting of about 45 minutes away from the cameras with the French president, who has nevertheless established a good relationship with the conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, is described by the British press as a good "coup" for Keir Starmer.

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Ensuring economic and energy security in Europe

On the eve of Charles III's state visit in France, Emmanuel Macron and Keir Starmer "discussed the importance of strengthening cooperation between the France and the United Kingdom so that this partnership continues to ensure the prosperity and security of the French and British," the Elysee reported. "They discussed the need to guarantee economic and energy security in Europe and reaffirmed their desire to provide continued support to Ukraine and its people," the French presidency added.

Emmanuel Macron's entourage had explained that the meeting was "part of the regular dialogue" with European political actors. Keir Starmer presented his host with an Arsenal football team shirt and received cufflinks from the Presidency of the Republic. The 61-year-old Labour opponent, whom polls put well ahead of the Conservatives in power for 13 years, has visited the Netherlands and Canada in recent days as part of a tour aimed at consolidating his international stature before the legislative elections scheduled for early 2025.

'A closer trade relationship'

He took the opportunity to lay the groundwork for what his European policy would be in the event of victory. He notably promised, in an interview published Sunday by the Financial Times, to negotiate a "much better agreement" of free trade between the United Kingdom and the European Union. The trade and cooperation agreement governing post-Brexit relations, especially economic relations, between Brussels and London entered into force in 2021, with a review clause in 2025. Its implementation has not been smooth, and the exit from the EU weighs and will continue to weigh on the British economy, according to economists' assessments.

Without opening the door to a return to the EU, Keir Starmer believes it is possible "a closer trade relationship" with the European bloc, from which the United Kingdom left following the 2016 referendum. In the Netherlands, he also emphasised his programme against illegal immigration, Rishi Sunak's favourite theme, and on which Labour is often seen as weaker. Since he took over as leader of the party in 2020, the Labour boss has constantly refocused it and turned the page on the Jeremy Corbyn era, his very left-wing predecessor, accused of having allowed anti-Semitism to develop within the party.