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Howlin welcomes move by British Labour counterpart to back new Brexit vote

Irish Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin met Jeremy Corbyn over the weekend.

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Brendan Howlin has welcomed the UK Labour Party’s backing of giving the public a final say on Brexit (Brian Lawless/PA)

Brendan Howlin has welcomed the UK Labour Party’s backing of giving the public a final say on Brexit (Brian Lawless/PA)

Brendan Howlin has welcomed the UK Labour Party’s backing of giving the public a final say on Brexit (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Irish Labour Party leader has welcomed the move by the British Labour Party to support a fresh Brexit referendum.

Brendan Howlin said he did not believe a hard Brexit would happen on March 29 but he said Ireland could not afford to be complacent given the chaos in the Brexit negotiations over the past two years.

Mr Howlin made the comments after the British Labour Party announced it would be prepared to back a new referendum if its withdrawal plan is rejected by MPs in Westminster this week.

“We’re all looking with increasing frustration at the disarray in the Commons as the time ticks down and I think that ultimately a proposal that allows the people to vote again on the matter is something that we have to absolutely welcome,” Mr Howlin said.

He said there was no such thing as a good Brexit and that the Withdrawal Agreement was the best deal that could be arrived at if the UK wants to leave the EU.

“Obviously if Britain has the chance not to leave the European Union that is infinitely better and if that’s a real prospect I think our own government should not be so wedded to the withdrawal agreement that they would lose sight of that.”

Mr Howlin held a meeting with Mr Corbyn at a gathering of socialist party leaders over the weekend.

Mr Howlin said Mr Corbyn shared his concerns that there cannot be a hard border on the island of Ireland after the UK leaves the EU.

The remarks came ahead of the Irish Government’s emergency no-deal Brexit legislation being debated in Parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Howlin described the omnibus bill, which will be enacted if the UK crashes out of the UK, as the most comprehensive legislation in terms of scope that Parliament has ever had to deal with.

He predicted Ireland would end up dealing with legislative matters for years in a no-deal scenario.

“Whether it is comprehensive enough is something we’ll have to debate over the coming weeks and probably have to address again as issues that we haven’t even contemplated in the event of a hard Brexit happening will come into focus,” he said.

“I’ve no doubt we’ll be in legislative mode in the event of a hard Brexit not only for months but for years to come.”

PA