Corbyn to call for return of British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference

Lester Mason
May 25, 2018

He is plainly correct to stress that Labour will not support a Brexit deal which involved any suggestion of a hard border in Ireland, but there are persistent hints that he views the European Union largely as the creation of big business interests and was far from displeased over the outcome of the 2016 referendum.

Mr Corbyn urged Stormont leaders and the United Kingdom and Irish governments to renew efforts to restore power-sharing at the crisis-hit institutions in Belfast, insisting peace can not be taken for granted.

He was giving a lecture at Queen's University in Belfast to mark 20 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

In Belfast today, Mr Corbyn will seek to "engage with all communities" on the peace process, Brexit and need "for a transformation of the economy in Northern Ireland", his spokesman said.

Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Irish government have been calling for the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIC) - a body which formally brings the British and Irish governments together - to discuss the way forward. And he will accuse Theresa May's government of risking an undermining of the co-operation and relative harmony in Northern Ireland of recent years in pursuit of a free-market ideology.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: "We're absolutely clear that the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference is a talking shop; it is a place to discuss east-west relations". So I want to send this message to the people of this island - Labour is as committed to the Good Friday Agreement as we have ever been.

The border issue has been a major hurdle in ongoing Brexit negotiations, with cross-border trade described as "crucial".

Meanwhile, unionists have accused Mr Corbyn of "defying the will of the people" by expressing support for reunification. "Let's not give up years of hard fought co-operation and stability for the pipe dream prize of race-to-the-bottom free trade deals with the likes of Donald Trump", he will say.

The Labour leader added that "maintaining an open border is not just about avoiding paperwork or tariffs, but serves as a symbol of peace".

"While many economic decisions for Northern Ireland are rightly decided in Stormont, a Labour government in Westminster would make sure that Northern Ireland has more money to invest in its people and its public services. Only the Conservatives will get a Brexit deal that works for the whole of the UK", Mr Lewis said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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