A British government should remain neutral on the question of a united Ireland in the event of a border election, Shadow Northern Ireland The secretary has said.
Lewis High said it would be to the people of the northern Ireland To settle such an issue, arguing that it was mandated in the Good Friday Agreement, which ended the troubles 23 years earlier.
“It’s not my job to be a motivator for the union, it was a key principle that led to the Good Friday Agreement,” Labour The MP told GB News. “One of the key principles was that Britain should have no strategic or selfish economic interest in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland. It is up to the people of Northern Ireland to determine their own constitutional future.”
“The principle of consent is still very much intact. It is only for the people of Northern Ireland to determine their own constitutional future and surveys still suggest that there is still a very firm majority in favor of staying in the United Kingdom. .
His position that Westminster should not campaign for one side of the constitutional argument drew criticism from both the Democratic Unionist and Ulster Unionist parties.
DUP MP Carla Lockhart said Haigh’s position was contrary to announcements from Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer, who in July said he would argue for Northern Ireland to remain in the UK “in favor of the federalists”.
“Lewis High’s remarks not only refute these, but demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the principle of consent,” said the Upper Bain MP, who “was wrong to suggest” Westminster had to remain neutral on the matter.
Former Ulster Unionist Party leader Steve Aitken said the idea that the government would not campaign for Northern Ireland to remain in the union was “very puzzling”. He added that no one “considers it even remotely likely” that the Irish government would take a neutral stand, he said.
The prospect of a border election is not considered imminent, but it has become a topic of discussion on both sides of the border since the Brexit referendum.
The 1998 peace agreement stated that both the Irish and British governments “will recognize the legitimacy of any choice freely exercised by the majority of the people of Northern Ireland with respect to their position, whether they support the union with the Great”. Prefer to continue to do Britain or a sovereign united Ireland”.
It states that it is “for the people of the island by agreement of the two parts respectively and without external constraints” to determine their future constitutional status.
In practice this meant that there would be two referendums in Ireland if a border election were called in Northern Ireland.
Under the agreement the Irish government would have to hold a parallel referendum in the Republic of Ireland, but the power to hold elections in Northern Ireland rests with the Secretary of State, currently Brandon Lewis.