David Lammy faces a world in turmoil: five key concerns for foreign secretary

Ukraine

More than two years after Russia invaded Ukraine, the conflict drags on. Ukrainian forces are depleted and they need foreign weapons. Support for Ukraine crosses most party lines in Europe, but if Donald Trump wins the US election and cuts or limits the flow of arms, Europe may struggle to fill the gap. Lammy will want to shore up public support, bolster European collaboration, and map out what resources the continent can collectively offer Ukraine if the US steps back.

Gaza

Labour’s stance on Gaza cost it several seats, and Lammy will face scrutiny on issues including arms sales to Israel. Labour is committed to recognising Palestinian statehood “as a contribution to a renewed peace process which results in a two-state solution”, but has not given a timeline. Starmer is unlikely to want to risk alienating the Biden administration by making unilateral moves in the run-up to the election.

US presidential election

Photograph: Jeffrey Phelps/AP

One of the UK’s main diplomatic roles has been as Washington’s ally in forums like the UN, and an interlocutor between the US and Europe. But US politics are in turmoil, with Joe Biden’s bid for a second term hanging in the balance. Lammy will have to prepare for the possibility of working with a Trump administration.

Europe

Starmer say he wants to keep Brexit out of politics but his commitment to growth means forming an economic relationship with the UK’s biggest trading partner. Ties to Europe will be particularly important if Trump win. A meeting of the European Political Community, held at Blenheim Palace later this month, will be a key first step to building a shared vision for the continent.

Climate change

Despite heavy criticism for watering down commitments to clean energy, Labour has laid out ambitious plans to lead global efforts on climate change, building on British diplomatic reach and technological expertise. The potential loss of progressive allies in France or the US could make a British role important globally. But as the impact of a warming world become increasingly evident, Labour may open itself up to charges of hypocrisy if domestic policies don’t measure up.

The Guardian