Sir Keir Starmer and wife ‘Lady Vic’ jet off to Washington for NATO summit on first foreign jaunt since moving into No10 – as Prime Minister says allies will use the meeting to ‘strengthen their resolve’ against Russian aggression

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Sir Keir Starmer has jetted off to Washington for the NATO summit on his first international trip since becoming Prime Minister.

The newly elected leader, travelling to the American capital with his wife Victoria, said he has a ‘very clear’ message to Vladimir Putin and believes the summit is an opportunity for allies to stand together against Russian aggression. 

The message comes two days after Moscow launched missile attacks on Ukraine which damaged the country’s largest children’s hospital.

Sir Keir said before he departed for Washington: ‘My message is very, very clear.

‘This Nato summit is an opportunity for allies to stand together, to strengthen their resolve, particularly in light of that appalling attack, against Russian aggression.

Britain’s Prime Minister Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria board a plane at Stansted Airport as they prepare to travel to Washington for the Nato Summit 

The newly elected Prime Minister (pictured speaking to the press) said he has a 'very clear' message to Vladimir Putin

The newly elected Prime Minister (pictured speaking to the press) said he has a ‘very clear’ message to Vladimir Putin

‘I’m pleased to have the early opportunity to confirm and reaffirm Labour’s strong support, unshakeable support for Nato.

‘We are a founding member, it’s now the 75th anniversary but this is an opportunity to send that message in relation to Russian aggression wherever.

‘But that attack [on Monday] … was appalling so that message is even more important than it was before.’

Sir Keir said he is committed to spending 2.5% of GDP on defence ‘within our fiscal rules’ and said he needed to carry out a review before setting a timeline to reach that goal.

Speaking before his departure to the summit, the Prime Minister said: ‘The most important thing is to, at this Nato summit, recommit to our solidarity with and stand with Ukraine and discuss the practical plans for further action we can take together in relation to Russian aggression.’

He added: ‘In relation to defence more generally, we will carry out our strategic review to look at the challenges, the capabilities, and on the back of that make further plans.

‘I am committed to that 2.5% within our fiscal rules. That strategic review needs to come first. But today, tomorrow and the next day is all about standing together with our allies, discussing practically how we provide further support to Ukraine, and send a very, very clear message to Putin that we will stand against Russian aggression wherever it is in the world.’

The three-day summit will begin on Tuesday evening and marks the 75th anniversary of the organization.

It will continue through meetings and a dinner with world leaders on Wednesday and accumulate in a press conference on Thursday.

The gathering of the leaders from the 32 NATO countries — plus Pacific partners Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, as well as Ukraine — is expected to be one of US president Joe Biden’s last appearances at an international forum before Election Day.

Biden is expected to have bilateral meetings with Sir Keir and the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the course of the summit.

Sir Keir pictured outside No10 after a cabinet meeting on July 9. He scrapped the Rwanda plan shortly after becoming Prime Minister

Sir Keir pictured outside No10 after a cabinet meeting on July 9. He scrapped the Rwanda plan shortly after becoming Prime Minister

The NATO summit will be a three-day test of Joe Biden's fitness and leadership

The NATO summit will be a three-day test of Joe Biden’s fitness and leadership

Members of the media gather at the NATO summit location in Washington DC

Members of the media gather at the NATO summit location in Washington DC

A triumphant Keir Starmer paraded his troops in the Commons today as the ‘Red’ Parliament returned

Before heading to Washington, the new Prime Minister was clapped and cheered by his party as he came into the Commons for the first time since winning Thursday’s general election.

In his maiden speech as premier at the despatch box, Sir Keir said he wanted to ‘turn the page’ and embark on ‘national renewal’. He also praised new mother of the House Diane Abbott, even though he initially tried to block her from being a candidate.

Speaking in the Commons, Sir Keir said: ‘And now, as in any new Parliament, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to put an end to a politics that has too often seemed self-serving and self-obsessed, and to replace that politics of performance with the politics of service.

‘Because service is a precondition for hope and trust, and the need to restore trust should weigh heavily on every member here, new and returning alike.

‘We all have a duty to show that politics can be a force for good.

‘So whatever our political differences, it’s not time to turn the page, unite in a common endeavour of national renewal and make this Parliament a Parliament of service.’ 

In response, Mr Sunak said he wanted to ‘start by congratulating the Prime Minister on his election victory and as he takes on his formidable task, he and his family deserve the good wishes of all of us in this House’.

‘In our politics, we can argue vigorously, as the Prime Minister and I did over the past six weeks, but still respect each other, and whatever disputes we have in this Parliament, I know that everyone in this house will not lose sight of the fact that we are all motivated by our desire to serve our constituents, our country, and advance the principles that we honourably believe in,’ he said.

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