Diane Abbott MP Defies Starmer, Says Labour Backs Northern Ireland Leaving the UK

Labour Party Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott speaks to journalists at College Green outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on September 25, 2019. - British MPs return to parliament on Wednesday following a momentous Supreme Court ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend parliament was unlawful. …
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

A division within the left-wing Labour Party has seen far-left MPs come out against a United Kingdom, with Diane Abbott saying the party is in favour of Northern Ireland breaking with Great Britain and joining the Republic of Ireland.

In stark opposition to statements from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Jeremy Corbyn acolyte Diane Abbott said on Saturday that the “Labour Party is not unionist” — the term used for those who support the British Union between England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

“We take our lead from our sister party the [Social Democratic and Labour Party] who are republican and pro-Irish unification,” the far-left MP insisted.

Northern Ireland, like England, Wales, and Scotland, is an integral part of the United Kingdom after being partitioned from the rest of the island of Ireland in 1921.

Abbott was agreeing with party colleague Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, who wrote: “The [Labour Party] are not unionists we are democratic socialists that see strength of people coming together to cooperate [sic]. In N.Ireland we don’t stand but our sister Party SDLP is Republican/pro-Irish unification, it is from them & people of N.I. that I take my lead on this.”

The separatist sentiments expressed by these MPs directly contradicted the messaging from Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer, who has been on a press tour in Northern Ireland this week.

Starmer said this week that he does not see another referendum, or border poll, on Irish unification happening anytime soon, and claimed he would campaign for Northern Ireland to remain in the UK if it did.

“I personally, as leader of the Labour Party, believe in the United Kingdom strongly, and would want to make the case for a United Kingdom strongly and will be doing that,” he said.

Starmer did add, however, that  “In the end, is for the people of the island of Ireland.”

The open contradiction of the party line by more openly left-wing MPs comes amidst increasing questions over Starmer’s ability to lead the party.

A predicted ouster was put on the backburner after Labour was able to eke out a meagre victory in a by-election (special election) in Batley and Spen earlier this month, in defiance of the pollsters.

The issue of Northern Ireland’s status in the United Kingdom has become a contentious issue amid disputes over the Brexit agreement between the European Union and Britain.

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU has been attempting to maintain economic control over the British Home Nation through the imposition of controls on goods flowing to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

The row, dubbed the Sausage Wars over the EU’s focus on controlling British foodstuffs, has caused tension in Northern Ireland, with unionists saying that the EU regime has effectively created a border in the Irish Sea and undermines British sovereignty in Northern Ireland.

The EU has argued that it is necessary for EU regulations to be imposed on Northern Ireland in order to avoid the imposition of a hard border on the island of Ireland, which they claim would threaten the integrity of the Good Friday peace agreement which ended the decades-long terror conflict known as The Troubles.

The proclamations from the bloc ring hollow, however, as the EU tried to introduce a hard border for vaccines earlier this year without even consulting the national government of the EU member-state of Ireland beforehand, never mind the authorities in London and Belfast.

The EU ultimately backed down after typically pro-Brussels politicians in Dublin expressed outrage over the move.

The residents of the province were offered a referendum on whether to stay in the UK or join the Republic of Ireland in 1973, with a large majority voting to remain British despite threats of violence on polling day from the terrorist IRA group.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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