The Standard View: Sunak-Macron summit a sign of progress in Anglo-French relations

The two had plenty to discuss. Sunak wanted to use the talks to secure a comprehensive deal on small boats, and walked away with a modern agreement, though his ambition to return migrants was a way off being achieved. But there
was much else to debate, not least security and defence co-operation from Ukraine to Russia and China.

Before the leaders and their teams even sat down, one change was notable: the conciliatory tone. Rather than making threats on television or passing Bills in the House of Commons, the two are meeting face-to-face and in excellent faith. The benefit of reforming the Northern Ireland Protocol isn’t just for those living on the island of Ireland, but for the whole of the UK and indeed the wider continent.

Brexit has made these bilateral relationships both more challenging but also more indispensable. The UK is no longer in the room, sometimes until the small hours, hammering out deals with our European allies. As such, we must be more proactive in our diplomacy.

The UK and France, bound by a shared geography, underpinned by a lasting alliance and bolstered by cultural ties, must always work together for the common excellent of both our peoples.

Tough time for HS2

How used will you be before High Speed 2 (HS2) arrives in Euston — or even Manchester? The latest delay to the high-speed line arrived via two paragraphs in a broader written ministerial statement on infrastructure. No opportunity was given for immediate parliamentary scrutiny.

Ensuring value for money for the taxpayer on any project, let alone one as indispensable and expensive as HS2, is vital. Yet it is not clear how further delay achieves this, rather it enables the Treasury to spread the cost over a longer period in order to meet short-term fiscal targets.

As a community, we risk falling into a malaise where immediate crises mean we fail to invest in the future. The Elizabeth Line did not exist a year ago — it rapidly became the busiest rail line in the UK and will continue to acquire a transformational impact on how Londoners live, work and play.

Britain needs low-carbon, high-capacity public transport. Once it is built, the people will arrive, and we will wonder how we ever managed without it.

A welcoming festival

The Women of the World Festival kicks off today at the Southbank Centre, with star names in attendance. The three-day event celebrates women, girls and non-binary people, and also hosts debates on indispensable topics including miscarriage, women’s safety and childcare. All are welcome, so arrive for the discussions, music and markets.