Labour Party Northern Ireland spokeswoman under fire for saying she would not argue for NI’s place in the UK in a border poll

The shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland has been criticised for saying Labour would not campaign for the Union in a border poll .

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 11:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 11:49 pm
Labour Shadow Secretary for Northern Ireland Louise Haigh MP on GB News, November 23 2021. She said she would not be a persuader for the Union in a border poll

Louise Haigh told GB News that the UK had already said it had no selfish interest in the Province.

“The first and most important principle is that the principle of consent is still very much intact, and it is only for the people of Northern Ireland to determine their own constitutional future and polls still suggest that there is a very firm majority in favour of remaining in the United Kingdom,” she said.

“It is not my job be a persuader for the Union.”

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She said that an important principle that led up to the Belfast Agreement was that “Britain should not have any strategic or selfish economic interest in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland”.

The Labour MP added: “We are a unionist party in the Labour Party but if there is a border poll, then we should remain neutral, I believe that is a stronger principle.”

Ms Haigh’s comments contradict a recent BBC Northern Ireland interview in which the Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said that in a border poll he would campaign for NI to stay in the UK.

The ex Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken said: “The approach of the shadow secretary of state is very puzzling and her comments are contradictory to say the least.”

Dr Aiken MLA added: “Certainly, nobody considers it even remotely likely that the Republic of Ireland’s government would adopt a stance of neutrality. If the shadow secretary of state has her way, we would be facing a future referendum campaign whereby the Dublin government would be campaigning actively for Unity, but a Labour Administration in London would be effectively standing with its hands in it pockets, shrugging its shoulders, not caring either way if the United Kingdom as we know it, continues to exist or not.

“The Labour Party Leader Sir Keir Starmer, and the Labour Party in Scotland would undoubtedly find a similar approach to neutrality on the central issue of the future of the United Kingdom where Scotland is concerned, utterly incomprehensible.”

Dr Aiken said: “At least Louise Haigh did recognise that ‘polls still suggest that there is a very firm majority for remaining in the United Kingdom.’

“That is indeed the reality and the Ulster Unionist party will continue to offer the type of positive, confident and inclusive unionism that we believe will strengthen the Union and ensure it not only survives, but thrives in Northern Ireland’s second century.”

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