Labour fringe event hears calls for special status and second referendum

Owen Smith said the north should have special status. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE shadow secretary of state believes the north should remain within the European Union as part of a "more imaginative" solution to potential problems with a post-Brexit border, according to reports.

Labour's Owen Smith's was said to have made the proposals during a fringe event at the party's conference in Brighton.

Sources close to the Pontypridd MP played down the significance of the remarks last night, but said Mr Smith was advocating that Northern Ireland remain part of the customs union and single market.

Labour's Northern Ireland spokesman told the Labour party event that special status was the only solution to the problems caused by Brexit.

"What I am increasingly convinced of myself is we will need... to be much more imaginative and much more concrete in what we offer," the Daily Mail reported Mr Smith as saying.

"Does it mean Northern Ireland needs to remain within the EU and as part of Britain, and with people being able to identify within Northern Ireland as Irish? I think that is the space we need to be in – I do not see another solution that allows for a different outcome."

He warned that the north's "unique circumstances" required a "unique and imaginative" solution to the problem of avoiding border checks.

At the same event, Irish Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin said there should be a second referendum on the detail of a Brexit deal.

"It is an exercise in democracy that, rather than to make a decision and then have a negotiation so you are in essence buying a pig in a poke, that you conclude the negotiations, you know the shape of the future, and then you ask: 'Is that what you want?'"

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