Are Starmer and Macron plotting Britain’s return to EU as ‘associate member’

Keir Starmer was accused of “undermining the will of the British people” after holding talks with Emmanuel Macron over his plan to bring Britain closer to the EU.

The Labour leader provoked fury as he boasted of having a “very political discussion” with the French President.

The controversial Paris meeting came as France and Germany tabled plans for a dramatic expansion of the EU that could see Britain rejoin as an “associate member”.

Sir Keir has said he would prioritise getting a “much better deal for the UK” as part of a review of the ­post-Brexit trade deal due in 2026 if he wins the next general election.

Brussels is preparing to welcome Ukraine as a full member of the bloc in less than seven years as part of its biggest shake up in decades.

READ MORE UK could become ‘associate member’ of EU under new plan by France and Germany

The new Franco-German plans call for a four-tiered European Union to integrate countries that aren’t “willing and/or able to join the EU in the foreseeable future”.

Under the plan, Britain could be invited into the third tier as an “associate member” of the EU. Mr Macron is known to be a strong supporter of the proposal.

EU leaders will begin talks on deeper integration and streamlined decision-making, with a target date of 2030 to allow the bloc to enlarge eastwards to include the western Balkans.

Sir Keir’s visit comes amid a growing row at home over his plans to alter the UK’s relationship with the EU.

The two leaders exchanged gifts at the Elysee Palace, with the Labour leader presenting the French leader with an Arsenal football shirt with “Macron 25” on the back, while Mr Macron gifted a pair of cufflinks.

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Speaking to reporters afterwards, Sir Keir said: “We had a very constructive and positive meeting. It was my first opportunity to say how much I value the relationship between our two countries, particularly when it comes to prosperity and security and how, if we are privileged enough to be elected into power, intend to build on that relationship and make it even stronger.”

Sir Keir, who campaigned for a ­second referendum and supported the return of free movement, added: “We had a very political discussion covering a lot of issues to do with global politics but also it was that opportunity to look at future prosperity, future security, some of the most pressing issues on my mind.”

But Tories have warned he could take Britain “back to square one” while Brussels observers said a closer deal would be possible only by signing up to EU laws.

Brexiteer former defence secretary Liam Fox said: “By stealth and ­arrogance, he seeks to undermine the will of the British people.”

Craig Mackinlay, a Conservative member of the Commons European scrutiny committee, warned: “He is someone who wants Britain to be in the EU. If he gets into No10 then he will betray the ideals and advantages of Brexit. We will end up with more alignment with the EU, but no say over the rules – it would be the worst of both worlds.”

A Labour spokesman said: “Labour will seek a better deal for Britain. This does not involve any form of membership.”

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