Opinion| Labour Party’s triumph won’t lead the UK to relinquish its unquestionable subordination to the US

Marwa El- Shinawy
6 Min Read
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 05: Labour Leader Keir Starmer celebrates winning the 2024 General Election with a speech at Tate Modern on July 05, 2024 in London, England. Labour is on course to win a landslide victory in the 2024 General Election. Starmer addresses the nation promising Country first, Party second. (Photo by Ricky Vigil/Getty Images)

The Labour Party, which assumed power in the United Kingdom following its landslide victory in the general election on July 4, campaigned under the slogan “Time for Change.” Upon entering Downing Street last Friday, Prime Minister Keir Starmer pledged an “era of national renewal after 14 years of Conservative Party governance.”

Despite the impactful slogan and optimistic pledge, the party’s statements during the elections and its directives suggest that its policies won’t signify a fresh start or a new chapter for the UK. The challenge lies in balancing strategic interests with Washington, resulting in Britain’s continued subordination to US influence on various matters.

The Labour Party views the United States as an “indispensable ally,” emphasizing the so-called “special relationship” for security and prosperity. It commits to collaborating with the US based on shared values and interests, covering economic cooperation, defence, and intelligence. Consequently, there’s little disparity between Labour and Conservative parties on key foreign and security policy matters, including Ukraine, Gaza, relations with China, and potential reentry into the European Union.

Both Labour and Conservatives promise unwavering support for Ukraine, despite the rising cost of living in Britain. However, public backing for aiding Ukraine has begun to decline. Notably, the party’s election promise to recognize a Palestinian state still prioritizes Israel’s long-term security.

Concerning the situation in Gaza, following the attack launched by Hamas on Israel on October 7, 2023, and the subsequent Israeli war in the Gaza Strip, British Muslims have expressed discontent with the biased stance of British politicians, particularly those from the Labour Party, towards Israel. Criticism was directed at Labour Party leader Keir Starmer for his initial support of Israel’s actions and his call for party members to abstain from voting on a ceasefire proposal in the House of Commons.

Despite the party’s election promise to recognize a Palestinian state, it still views this as a means to ensure Israel’s long-term security. It is no secret that Britain, like its ally the United States, supports Israel with all possible force.

While a shift may occur within Westminster, the overall pro-Israel orientation of the party remains intact. The influence of the Friends of Israel party within the Conservative Party is expected to decrease, while a more critical stance towards Netanyahu may rise. However, fundamental policies are unlikely to change significantly.

Regarding the relationship with China, the Labour Party has announced a plan for a “long-term strategic approach” to handling Britain’s relationship with China. They emphasized the need to cooperate, compete, and challenge as necessary. Interestingly, this mirrors the strategy adopted by the United States towards China. It is concerning that Britain tends to give in to pressure from Washington on matters related to China. An example of this was when the UK yielded to pressure to limit China’s advancements in sensitive technology with potential national security implications, succumbing to Washington’s demands to restrict Huawei’s involvement in the 5G network.

As for the return of Britain to the European Union, which is a crucial matter, the party has made its stance very clear on this issue. Similar to the Conservative Party, the Labour Party has firmly rejected the idea of the United Kingdom rejoining the single market or the customs union, as well as any agreement that would allow free movement of citizens within the EU. Nevertheless, a Labour government would aim to build stronger economic ties and foster greater trust with the EU, advocating for a “reset” in UK-EU relations.

Indeed, the British public’s current sentiment towards the exit from the European Union is Crystal clear as they widely describe “Brexit” as a fatal mistake. This is evident by numerous media reports and public demonstrations in central London and Parliament Square. These events underscore the impact of separation from the EU on the working class and the less affluent segments of society. Despite this, the UK government is expected to succumb to pressure from Washington, which consistently aims to distance Britain from the EU. These pressures ultimately led to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and its single market, driven by Trump’s assurances of a comprehensive economic agreement to offset the losses incurred. However, with Trump’s defeat to Biden, this promise remains unfulfilled, resulting in the British economy’s poorest performance among the G7 nations.

Thus, the UK elections will not bring about any significant change on numerous contentious matters, unlike the French elections. Britain’s unquestionable subordination to United States policies has become evident. The American media’s limited coverage of the British elections, in comparison to the extensive coverage of the French elections, reflects the certainty in the United States that Britain will comply with its wishes, regardless of the British people’s discontent or satisfaction.

Dr Marwa El-Shinawy – Academic and writer

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