Emmanuel Macron is reportedly set to host Sir Keir Starmer next week for a meeting in Paris, as the Labour leader seeks to boost his international standing ahead of the next general election.
Labour has not yet confirmed reports that Sir Keir and the French President will meet, after reports that a meeting in the Elysee could happen as soon as next Monday or Tuesday.
An aide to Macron told Politico: “The president told Rishi Sunak on the sidelines of the G20 that he was going to meet Keir Starmer. It’s logical for the president to meet the different players of European countries.”
The Labour leader has met several European leaders during his tenure, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and then-Irish premier Micheal Martin.
Sir Keir could also be eyeing a meeting in the White House with US President Joe Biden in the coming months, whose “Bidenomics” and landmark green subsidy push has attracted admiration from the Opposition.
Any meeting with Macron would come amid renewed efforts by the Government to boost cooperation with the French administration to stop migrant crossings in the Channel.
Improved ties between London and Paris since the arrival of Sunak into Downing Street have seen some dubbing his relationship with his French counterpart a “bromance”.
Sunak’s press secretary played down the significance of any such meeting with the Labour leader.
She said: “Opposition leaders do occasionally meet other countries’ leaders, and I think this is possibly following in the footsteps of Ed Miliband – and we know how that one worked out.
“I would say as well whilst he’s planning his trip across the pond today he might like to spend five minutes to think about the 100,000 homes that are not going to be built because of what he’s doing.”
The latter comment was a reference to Wednesday evening’s vote on scrapping EU-era rules that force housebuilders to mitigate the impact development has on river health.
Downing Street said that it was not “unusual” for opposition leaders to meet heads of government.
The Labour leader is also expected to meet Europol officials in The Hague, The Netherlands this week, amid efforts to highlight his party’s desire to crack down on small boats crossings.
That will be followed by a trip to Montreal, Canada for a summit of “progressive” politicians.
Press Association – Dominic McGrath