France’s Shift to the Right Won’t Inhibit UK Ties, Starmer Says

(Bloomberg) -- The expected success of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party in France’s parliamentary election this week will be no obstacle to the UK’s ability to build closer ties with Europe, according to Keir Starmer, who polls suggest will become UK prime minister after the July 4 UK vote.

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“Obviously we’ll work with whoever is in power in France or any other country,” Starmer told reporters during an election campaign visit on Thursday. “I don’t think that’s an inhibitor for a better set of working relations.”

Le Pen’s party is expected to secure the most votes in the France’s parliamentary election on Sunday, putting Emmanuel Macron’s more centrist agenda at risk. The French President called the ballot after right-wing parties came out on top in European Union elections this month.

The timing clashes with campaigning for the July 4 general election in the UK, where the opposite political shift is expected. Starmer’s center-left Labour Party is on track to take over from the governing Conservatives after 14 years.

Starmer has pledged to build a closer relationship with the EU if he’s elected, and has criticized the post-Brexit trade deal signed by former Tory premier Boris Johnson. Asked by reporters if he is ready to step in as a leader for progressive politics, he cautioned that he didn’t want to get ahead of himself with a week of campaigning to go.

“But yes, I do think that all progressives should work across Europe and beyond Europe, because I believe that the only response to some of the increasing challenges we see across Europe is a progressive response to that,” he said.

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