Tony Blair is said to have set up the meeting between Sir Keir Starmer and Emmanuel Macron, as part of a covert plan to rejoin in the EU.
The former Prime Minister planned the meeting to coincide with the announcement of EU ‘associate membership’, a scheme which France is said to be keen for the UK to be part of.
An insider said Blair is “convinced that Brexit is now a vote-winner”, pushing Starmer to open the door to its reversal in order to win the election.
Starmer met with Macron in Paris yesterday. The duo are understood to have spoken for 45 minutes without aides present.
Speaking about the meeting, the Labour leader said: “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, I intend to build on that relationship and make it even stronger than it is today.
He added: “We had a very political discussion covering a lot of issues to do with global politics.”
The meeting took place yesterday, the same day as the EU’s plans for associate membership of the bloc were revealed.
The plans are said to be aimed at a Labour Government and would not require the UK to undertake another EU referendum, as it would stop short of full membership.
The EU hopes to enact the plans by 2030.
A European diplomatic source said: “It is carefully balanced politically to be a potential place for Britain without the need to ever rejoin the EU or to hold a referendum.”
While the plans for associate membership do not go as far as a customs union, they do include legal integration.
Under the proposals, the UK would have speaking rights among the councils of ministers discussing the bloc’s legislation, but it would not have a vote.
Speaking about Blair’s role in Starmer’s trip to France, the source told the Daily Mail: “‘Blair is trying to convince Starmer that the more he edges towards saying Brexit is a disaster, the better Labour will do.
“He believes that reversing Brexit can be a vote-winner and he is pushing that message very hard.”
This week, Starmer revealed that he plans to renegotiate the UK’s deal with the EU in 2025, in order to strike up a new relationship with the bloc.
The Labour Leader said he wants a closer trading relationship with the bloc, dismissing the 2020 deal struck by Boris Johnson as “not a good deal”.