Peter Hain backs Louise Haigh over position on NI’s status

A former NI Secretary of State has backed Labour’s Louise Haigh’s “remain neutral” stance should a border poll be called at some point in the future.
Former NI Secretary Peter Hain. Photo: Arthur Allison/PacemakerFormer NI Secretary Peter Hain. Photo: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker
Former NI Secretary Peter Hain. Photo: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker

Peter Hain said the current shadow secretary of state’s position is “absolutely correct” and “loyal to the Good Friday Agreement”.

Lord Hain, who served as NI secretary in Tony Blair’s government between 2005 and 2007, made his comments after Ms Haigh was criticised for having a “puzzling” and “contradictory” stance on the UK.

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On Tuesday, Ms Haigh told GB News that the United Kingdom had already said it had no selfish interest in the Province.

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

Ms Haigh’s claims prompted ex-Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken to say: “The approach of the shadow secretary of state is very puzzling and her comments are contradictory to say the least.”

Mr Aiken 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... not caring either way if the UK as we know it, continues to exist or not”.

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However, Mr Hain said that by adopting the position of an “honest broker” he was able to forge close links with both Dr Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness leading up to the 2007 settlement between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

“Partly the reason that they were able to come together was that I was able to build trust with both of them. Now, you can only do that if you are trusted by all sides,” he told BBC Talkback on Wednesday.

Commenting on the prospect of a border poll, he said: “That is determined by the Good Friday Agreement. I don’t advocate a united Ireland and more than I advocate a different option for Northern Ireland”.

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