Mayor Sadiq Khan says London will 'always be open to the Irish' as he slams Theresa May's Brexit deal in Dublin
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Mayor Sadiq Khan says London will 'always be open to the Irish' as he slams Theresa May's Brexit deal in Dublin

MAYOR of London Sadiq Khan has insisted his city "always will be open" to Irish people and praised their contributions to the British capital.

Mr Khan, who met President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin on Thursday, used his visit to Dublin to argue against the prospect of a "devastating" no-deal Brexit.

President Higgins thanked him on behalf of the Irish, and particularly the Irish community in London, for his work in relation to the celebration of St Patrick's Day.

Along with Brexit and the Irish border, the pair discussed a wide range of issues including climate change, sustainable development and the potential for greater co-operation over the housing crises in both Dublin and London.

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President Higgins also expressed his sympathies and support for the people of London in relation to the Grenfell Tower tragedy and terror attacks last year.

Speaking in Dublin, Mr Khan – a prominent pro-EU campaigner – said: "The worst possible outcome, which remains a grave concern given the political uncertainty in Westminster, is that the UK leaves the EU with no Brexit deal at all.

"This would not only be devastating for London's economy, but would actually hurt businesses and economies across Europe, including here in Dublin, and increase the chance of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

"In my view, the prospect, the very notion, of a no-deal Brexit must be taken off the table by the British government. It's just too dangerous to leave as a possibility".

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The mayor added: "That's why, today, I'm calling on Theresa May to withdraw Article 50 if the British Parliament rejects her deal next week, which is looking extremely likely.

"This move would be the single best way to guarantee that we avoid falling off the cliff edge.

"It would stop the clock that is ticking down towards a no-deal Brexit, and it would provide the breathing space to decide how we resolve this mess.

"If the British Prime Minister refuses to take this precautionary step - we would continue heading towards a no-deal Brexit in just a few months' time - and would risk us having to explain to future generations why the Government of the day knowingly put our economy, our prosperity and our place on the world stage in such grave peril."

Taking to Twitter after the talks, Mr Khan wrote: "London just wouldn’t be the city it is without the contribution of the Irish community.

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"Today I made sure @PresidentIRL @MichaelDHiggins knows London is and always will be open to our Irish friends. #LondonIsOpen".

President Higgins tweeted a note that Mr Khan left in the Distinguished Visitors Book at the Áras following their meeting.

"It is an absolute pleasure to be here to ensure the friendship between London & Ireland goes from strength to strength," it read.