Northern Ireland news

Owen Smith sacked as shadow Northern Ireland secretary

Labour MP Owen Smith. Picture by Hugh Russell
Brendan Hughes

LABOUR'S Owen Smith was sacked as shadow Northern Ireland secretary by party leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday after breaking ranks to call for another EU referendum.

Mr Smith said he was removed as shadow secretary of state for his views on the "damage" Brexit will do to the UK's economy and the Good Friday Agreement.

He has been replaced by Rochdale MP and shadow housing minister Tony Lloyd.

In a post on Twitter, Mr Smith said he would continue to "speak up" for his "long-held views" on Brexit, which he said were shared by other Labour supporters and members.

Labour peer and former secretary of sate Peter Hain branded the sacking a "Stalinist purge", while Labour MP Anna Turley said the departure was "disappointing".

Mr Corbyn said his replacement Mr Lloyd was "highly experienced", and "committed to ensuring that peace in Northern Ireland is maintained" and bringing devolution "back on track".

The row comes after a newspaper article in which Mr Smith, who unsuccessfully challenged Mr Corbyn for the party leadership in 2016, insisted Labour needed to do more than "just back a soft Brexit or guarantee a soft border in Ireland".

Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer has said the party is "not calling for a referendum at this stage".

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