Keir Starmer holds Brexit talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Davos

Sir Keir Starmer today held Brexit talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar as he continued to cajole global politicians and business elites in Davos.

The Labor leader’s talks with the Taoiseach focused on the Northern Ireland Protocol, the Ukraine war and strengthening British-Irish relations.

This week’s meeting in Davos is the first in-person World Economic Forum since the start of the Covid pandemic.

Sir Keir has claimed his attendance at the posh Swiss ski resort is a “declaration of intent” over Labor’s efforts to seize power, while criticizing Rishi Sunak’s own absence from the event.

His talks with Mr Varadkar today, the second time the two leaders have met formally, came as senior EU officials claimed they could not wait for Sir Keir to replace Mr Sunak as UK Prime Minister.

Members of the European Parliament have said Brussels wants “a new relationship” with Britain, with the Labor leader pledging to develop “closer trade ties” with the bloc when he enters No. 10.

Sir Keir Starmer today held Brexit talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar as he continued to cajole global politicians and business elites in Davos

Sir Keir has claimed his attendance at the World Economic Forum – along with shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves – is a “declaration of intent” on Labour’s efforts to seize power

Members of the European Parliament claimed they “can’t wait” for Sir Keir Rishi to replace Sunak as UK Prime Minister

Following Sir Keir’s meeting with Mr Varadkar this morning, a Labor spokesman revealed that the two leaders “have discussed the need to move quickly in the search for an agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol”.

In London, Belfast, Dublin and Brussels there are high hopes that a solution to the bitter dispute over the post-Brexit trade agreements for Northern Ireland is about to be found.

It follows a flurry of activity over the past few weeks in relation to the protocol, with the UK and EU already having reached an agreement to share data on the flow of goods into Northern Ireland.

According to the Labor spokesman, Sir Keir reiterated to Mr Varadkar his party’s support for the UK government “in its efforts to reach an agreement”.

The Labor leader and Irish Prime Minister are also said to have discussed a new child poverty department being set up by Mr Varadkar, inspired by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s own efforts during their tenure.

Speaking at a panel yesterday, Sir Keir suggested that his trip to Davos with Labor Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves “a declaration of intent that should there be a change of government – and I hope there will be – the UK will play its part on the global stage in a way I don’t think it has likely done in recent years.

He also claimed that Mr Sunak’s absence from the World Economic Forum was a sign of Britain’s economic “drift”.

A number of MEPs have lined up to express their own hope that Sir Keir will take power in the next general election.

Austrian MP Andreas Schieder, who co-wrote the European Parliament’s Brexit trade deal, told the i newspaper: “I met Starmer and I can see he would be doing much better.

“He would be reliable – we’ve had too many splits among the Conservatives.

“We know if he agrees to something, it will be settled – and that is what the EU is looking for.”

Dutch MEP Thijs Reuten spoke of “seriously damaged” relations between the UK and the EU among the Conservatives.

“I can’t wait for Keir Starmer to become prime minister,” he said.

“Everyone in Brussels longs for a new relationship and they quietly build trust and invest in a solid relationship.”

Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt, a former Brexit coordinator for the European Parliament, attacked the Conservatives’ cartoon version of Thatcherism.

“What the western world needs now is to rally around the very areas Starmer mentions: science, technology, research, security, foreign policy,” he added.

Speaking in Belfast last week, Sir Keir called for “closer trade ties” between Britain and the EU.

He is also facing renewed pressure from Labor Remainers to change the party’s Brexit stance.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan recently reiterated his call for a “pragmatic debate” on rejoining the EU’s single market – something Sir Keir said there was “no reason” for. Keir Starmer holds Brexit talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Davos

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