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Jeremy Corbyn holds ‘very frank’ two-hour talks with EU chief Brexit negotiator

He said Labour respected the result of last year’s referendum but the party was seeking a Brexit to protect jobs.

Jeremy Corbyn has held extended talks with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, as part of his bid to present himself as a prime minister-in-waiting, ready to take over the EU withdrawal process if there is a change of government.

In discussions lasting more than two hours at the European Commission’s headquarters in Brussels, Mr Corbyn told Michel Barnier that Labour respected the result of last year’s referendum.

But he said the party was seeking a Brexit to protect jobs and would not cut a “sweetheart deal” with the US which would undermine the Paris climate change agreement and harm living standards in the UK.

Mr Corbyn confirmed his unilateral offer of citizens’ rights for EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit and said Labour was ready to pay “what we are legally required” as part of the process of withdrawal.

Emerging from the talks, Mr Corbyn characterised the discussions as “very interesting, very frank”.

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EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans with Jeremy Corbyn for a meeting at EU (AP Photo/Olivier Hoslet, pool/PA))

He presented the sports-mad EU official with a shirt from his beloved Arsenal, with Mr Barnier’s name on the back, along with a signed copy of Labour’s manifesto for last month’s election.

“Now he’s got two things in red – a shirt and a book,” the Labour leader quipped.

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Jeremy Corbyn gave Michel Barnier an Arsenal shirt (Jennifer Jacquemart/PA)

Mr Corbyn was accompanied on his visit by shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.

He was also due to meet European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans and the head of three UK representation in Brussels, as well as representatives of European Socialist parties.

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EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans welcomes Jeremy Corbyn to EU HQ (AP Photo/Olivier Hoslet, pool/PA))

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