LONDON — Keir Starmer met Emmanuel Macron in Paris and all the French president got was a t-shirt.
Starmer, the U.K. Labour leader, told Macron Tuesday he intends to improve relations between France and Britain if his opposition party wins power.
And Starmer came bearing a gift: a die-hard Gunners fan, he gave Macron an Arsenal Football Club t-shirt. It had “Macron 25” on the back — a reference to the fact Macron is France’s 25th president. The president gave Starmer a pair of cufflinks emblazoned with the Elysée logo.
The U.K. opposition leader met France’s president in Paris Tuesday, as he attempts to build on his international reputation and establish links with foreign leaders. Starmer has a commanding polling lead over current U.K. prime minister Rishi Sunak ahead of an expected general election next year.
Speaking following his meeting with Macron, Starmer told Sky News the behind-closed-doors talks had been his first chance to say how much he values the relationship between France and the U.K.
“We had a very political discussion, covering a lot of issues to do with global politics,” Starmer said. “But also it was that opportunity to look at future prosperity, future security, some of the most pressing issues on my mind and on the president’s mind, and to discuss ideas about how we improve the relationship between our two countries.”
Starmer said he told Macron he intends “to build on that relationship and make it even stronger than it is today.”
As part of his global outreach, Starmer has already traveled to the Hague in Switzerland to discuss migration cooperation, and this weekend attended a gathering of center-left leaders in Montreal.
While in Montreal, the Labour leader told the FT he wants to seek a major renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the European Union. Any change to the deal struck by Boris Johnson in 2020 would require co-operation from Macron.
Clea Caulcutt contributed reporting.