LEADER OF the British Labour Party Keir Starmer is in Belfast today to meet political leaders in Northern Ireland, with discussions expected to centre on the deepening row over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
He met DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson and Doug Beattie of the UUP in London earlier this week, while yesterday he met Taoiseach Micheál Martin and President Michael D Higgins in Dublin, as well as Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.
During yesterday's trip to Dublin, Mr Starmer accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of taking a wrecking ball to relationships between the UK and Ireland and the EU.
Today, Mr Starmer will meet Alliance leader Naomi Long, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and acting Stormont speaker Alan Chambers.
He is also expected to meet US Consul General Paul Narain and go on a walkabout in Belfast to view changes in the city since the Good Friday Agreement.
Ireland, thank you for your warm welcome today.
From the Book of Kells to Áras an Uachtaráin, Ireland’s rich history is inspiring.
It was a pleasure to meet with Irish leaders - we discussed our vital relationship for economic prosperity, peace and stability. pic.twitter.com/Wqhnf2gKQY
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) June 9, 2022
Mr Starmer worked in Belfast when he was a human rights adviser to the Northern Ireland Policing Board between 2003 and 2007.
Speaking at the London Irish Centre at an event organised by the Labour Party Irish Society in March, Starmer said they were some of the "most uplifting years" in his working life because there "was so much progress and change going on."
While in the city, along with Labour MP Peter Kyle, he is expected to call for compromise and negotiation to end the political deadlock over the return of the powersharing Executive.
— Peter Kyle MP (@peterkyle) June 9, 2022
The Northern Ireland Protocol will also feature in discussions, with the UK government proposing controversial legislation to override parts of the treaty.