IN recent days I was honoured to represent Glasgow at a major event in Belfast. Held annually over three days and discussing themes ranging from the arts to business, the aim of the Belfast Homecoming is to build better futures for all the citizens of that great city.

Our hosts were keen to explore the council’s approach to the Glasgow City Region Deal, and how we are positioning Glasgow as a city in transition and redefining ourselves internationally.

The links between our cities are deep and long. Some of our ‘Great Glaswegians’, the scientist Lord Kelvin, whose pioneering work cemented our reputation as global leader in innovation, or the artist Sir John Lavery, one of the world famous Glasgow Boys, actually hail from Belfast.

Yet no-one I met was naïve about the often complex social and historic reasons why the bond between our two cities perhaps hasn’t flourished in recent decades as it could have done.

There was a very tangible sense that Belfast was a city eager to explore opportunities to share and collaborate with its peers, with cities now similarly international, open, welcoming and changing. Cities like Glasgow.

Visiting a grassroots organisation on the unionist Lower Newtonards Road and with representatives from the nearby Market area, which is nationalist, I was struck by how rooted in, and responsive to, the needs of their communities they were. In both areas, their willingness to work beyond traditional boundaries for the good of their own and neighbouring communities was inspirational.

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Similarly, there was a sense of common purpose amongst those politicians from the major parties I met. They clearly want to see jobs and investment flowing from events like Homecoming and major projects, like the Belfast City Deal, for the prosperity and well-being of the people of Northern Ireland.

Also taking part in Homecoming was the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford. Again, it was an honour to spend an evening in his company.

Like many of the politicians and business leaders I talked with, Mr Drakeford did not shy away from his deep concerns over Brexit. To a packed audience at Belfast City Hall he spoke passionately about how the devolved institutions and those they represent have been ignored throughout the Brexit process by the Tory UK Government.

Neither did he hold back on condemning the contempt with which Boris Johnson treats the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast all voted Remain.

In subsequent days it has been hugely encouraging to see Mr Drakeford and our own First Minister Nicola Sturgeon join forces to set out their concerns for our nations over the Withdrawal Agreement Act.

In letters to both Boris Johnson and EU President Donald Tusk they called for a Brexit extension long enough to allow a second referendum on the UK's departure.

Their letter to Number 10 states:

“Both our governments believe the deal you have negotiated with the EU will be even more damaging to Wales, Scotland and the United Kingdom than the previous unacceptable agreement made by your predecessor.

“It is essential that your government respects devolution, the legislative consent process and any decisions on consent that the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly may reach.”

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As the Labour leader in Wales, Mr Drakeford holds opposing views on the UK constitution from our own First Minister. But on this, the greatest political crisis in the UK for generations, they have a common cause.

And no-one who has paid attention to how Brexit is playing out in Northern Ireland needs any reminding of its potential to undo the progress of recent decades.

By an accident of timing I will meet with colleagues from Cardiff again in the days ahead to discuss, amongst other issues, community integration, inclusion and the stereotypes around migrants in our cities.

All the analysis tells us that Brexit threatens to undermine what is expected of modern, outward-looking and welcoming cities like Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast.

We will always have our own interests and agendas, but where we can forge closer bonds we must – and I am determined that we will continue to do so.