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Paris appears to be very open to the prospect of a Starmer government

Stepping on to the red carpet at the Elysee Palace, shaking hands with the French President Emmanuel Macron.

This is the Sir Keir Starmer the Labour Party wants you to see.

A prime minister in waiting, mixing on equal terms with world leaders.

The one problem: did anyone see it?

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The meeting was held behind closed doors, without the press capturing every tender moment between the two leaders.

A protocol decision from the French side I am told, who wouldn't publicly endorse an opposition candidate.

Behind the scenes though, Paris appears to be very open to the prospect of a Starmer government.

The only two images released, proving the meeting had happened, showed a smiling president and Labour leader exchanging gifts (an Arsenal shirt from Sir Keir, cufflinks from President Macron).

The pair have more in common than you might think, politically they aren't far apart (President Macron was once a minister in the Socialist government), both regularly speak to Sir Tony Blair and have a professional background beyond politics.

There is open speculation on the French side about a different kind of relationship between Europe and the UK under Sir Keir.

The idea of "associate membership" being touted by some EU ministers today had to be dismissed by Labour's Jonathan Reynolds.

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We have, however, seen a bolder approach from Labour recently when it comes to talking about Europe, a willingness to give more information on areas they were previously reluctant to talk about.

It's a more risky approach that opens them up to attacks from Conservatives keen to paint Sir Keir as a europhile, and "delusional" about a new Brexit deal.

On the Labour side, there appears to be a desire to thrash out these foreign policy issues before a general election.

On the French side, it appears there was more than just symbolism to the meeting.

It is not the first time an opposition leader has courted a French president - Ed Miliband met President Hollande.

But it is a sign that Paris is looking ahead and sees Sir Keir as a potential prime minister they could work with.