Belfast Telegraph

Corbyn and Varadkar share ‘serious concerns on Brexit’ during Dublin meeting

The UK Labour leader also met President Michael D Higgins.

Jeremy Corbyn and Leo Varadkar (MerrionStreet/PA)
Jeremy Corbyn and Leo Varadkar (MerrionStreet/PA)

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Irish premier Leo Varadkar have held a meeting in Dublin where they shared their “serious concerns” about a no-deal Brexit scenario and its “inherent dangers”.

Mr Corbyn met Mr Varadkar at Government Buildings on Thursday morning, and also met President Michael D Higgins at Aras an Uachtarain.

It comes as pressure mounts on Mr Corbyn to back a referendum on Brexit.

The Labour leader said on Wednesday that an election or referendum would be the “only way out” of the Brexit crisis.

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said the pair held “detailed discussions” on Northern Ireland, Brexit and “the current political situation in Westminster”.

The meeting lasted an hour and a half, and focused mainly on the “need to restore powersharing in Northern Ireland and the importance of ongoing engagement with all political parties in the North”.

The spokesman added: “They also considered Brexit, with both sides sharing serious concerns about a no-deal scenario and its inherent dangers, including the possibility that the UK may end up in a no-deal situation by default unless alternatives are pursued.”

The importance of avoiding any return of a hard border on the island of Ireland was also discussed.

Mr Corbyn was shielded from the media on his way into Government Buildings and there were no media opportunities afterwards.

A spokesman for Mr Higgins said he and the Labour leader had known each other for decades, adding: “The president and Mr Corbyn had a lengthy and comprehensive meeting at which they discussed a range of current issues including Irish-UK relations, Brexit, the future of the European Union and Northern Ireland.”

On his arrival in Dublin on Wednesday, Mr Corbyn met the Irish Congress of Trade Unions general secretary Patricia King to discuss issues facing workers north and south of the border in light of Brexit.

He told reporters he would seek to renegotiate Brexit to get a better deal for the UK that avoided a no-deal outcome, despite the EU being clear that the Withdrawal Agreement was not open for renegotiation.

Asked if a second referendum is the only option for the UK, the Labour leader said: “The referendum would be on a negotiated deal or alternatives to that. It’s not a rerun of 2016.”

Mr Corbyn also met Irish Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin on Wednesday evening.

The Irish Labour Party tweeted: “They discussed Brexit, the impact of the upcoming Tory leadership election on both of our countries and how we can avoid a hard border on our island.”

Afterwards Mr Howlin said he was confident the UK Labour Party would “resist a no-deal scenario no matter who becomes Conservative leader”.

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