Northern Ireland news

Sir Keir Starmer asked to clarify Labour Party position on Union following MP's 'neutral' comments

Louise Haigh Shadow Secretary of State during a walk about at Lanark Way in west Belfast with community worker Jackie Redpath during a visit to Northern Ireland. Picture by Hugh Russell

LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer was asked last night by DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson to clarify the party's position on the Union after the Shadow Secretary of State stated it "should remain neutral".

The men were due to meet in London yesterday evening.

DUP MP Carla Lockhart said Sir Jeffrey will want to know whether Louise Haigh's analysis given during a TV interview "represents the views of the Labour Party" and "who speaks for (it) on this issue".

Ms Haigh told GB News an "important principle" of the Good Friday agreement is "Britain shouldn't have any strategic or selfish economic interest in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland" and its parties should not take part in debate if there was a referendum."

However, Ms Lockhart pointed out: "Less than six months ago Sir Keir Starmer was clear that he would campaign for Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom in any future border poll.

"The comments of Louise Haigh not only contradict these but demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the principle of consent."

She insisted "the principle of consent no more precludes the UK Government from promoting the Union than it prevents the Irish Government for advocating that Northern Ireland be removed from the United Kingdom."

UUP leader Steve Aiken said the Labour MP's comments were "contradictory to say the least".

"Nobody considers it even remotely likely that the Republic of Ireland's government would adopt a stance of neutrality."

He suggested there would be a future referendum campaign with "the Dublin Government... campaigning actively for unity, but a Labour Administration in London would be effectively standing with its hands in it pockets, shrugging its shoulders".

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