LONDON — A U.K. Labour government would seek a bilateral security and defense treaty with Germany in its first six months of winning power.
Labour’s Shadow Defense Secretary John Healey said Tuesday the agreement would be modeled on the historic Lancaster House treaties reached by Britain and France in 2010. It would be part of a wider British push to reconnect with European allies if Labour Leader Keir Starmer wins the next U.K. general election.
Healey will present the proposal alongside Nils Schmid, the parliamentary group spokesperson for foreign affairs for Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SDP), which leads Germany’s three-party coalition government, at an event in London on Tuesday.
“Allies are our strategic strength,” Healey said. “We want a Lancaster House style UK-German defence and security agreement struck within the first six months of a Labour Government. This will grow UK jobs, strengthen NATO and keep Britain safe,” he added.
The Labour Party’s policy platform is coming under increasing scrutiny as the party continues to enjoy a significant poll lead over the ruling Conservatives. POLITICO’s Poll of Polls currently puts the party 17 points ahead.
The announcement comes just a couple of months after King Charles praised Germany for responding “decisively” to the war in Ukraine and for taking “decisions that would have been easily unimaginable in the past,” in a likely nod to the country’s Zeitenwende, or major U-turn, on its post-World War II defense policy.
An agreement between the U.K. and Germany could include a joint defense industrial strategy to support and grow the defense sector in both countries, a Labour official said. Cooperation in research and development, technology, procurement and production could also be fostered, and equipment programs allowing more interoperability between the British and German armies developed.
Labour also hopes the treaty could see more cooperation between the British Armed Forces and German Bundeswehr on land, in the air, at sea and in cyber and space.
In remarks released ahead of the event Schmid said, “Enhanced security cooperation between the U.K. and Germany, the two European top defense spenders, would strengthen the European pillar within NATO and strongly benefit European security.”
He added: “We want to see an ambitious agreement between the U.K. and Germany on defence, security and foreign policy.”
But Sophia Gaston, head of foreign policy and U.K. resilience at the London-based Policy Exchange think tank, said the biggest obstacles to a closer defense cooperation between Britain and Germany would be the “perception that we no longer make the same assessments about geopolitical risk — whether in terms of engaging with China, our support for Ukraine, and the role of nuclear power.”
“While some of the gaps have narrowed as Berlin has been forced to confront its geopolitical naivety, there’s still much ground to be made up between values and implementation,” she said.
Healey and Schmid will speak at an event organized by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) on Tuesday evening.