LABOUR's shadow Northern Ireland secretary has said that if there is a referendum on a united Ireland, Labour "should remain neutral".

Asked on GB News what case Labour would make for the Union, Louise Haigh said that it is only for the people of Northern Ireland to determine their own constitutional future.

She said polls still suggest a majority in Northern Ireland favours living inside the UK.

Haigh added that it is not her job to be a "persuader for the Union", saying that was an important principle that led up to the Good Friday Agreement.

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The GB News host Darren McCaffrey interjected to say "it is not though because surely if Labour gets back into Government again you're someone who wants to see the United Kingdom succeed.

"Boris Johnson would say he's an advocate for the Union."

Haigh replied: "Yes, and I would also say he's not a particularly good custodian of the Good Friday Agreement.

"One of the important principles is that Britain shouldn't have any strategic or selfish economic interest in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland.

"It's up to the people of Northern Ireland to determine their own constitutional future."

Asked if there was a referendum on a united Ireland, should the British government and British political parties stay out of the debate, the Labour MP said "yes".

She continued: "Yes I would, I would say we area Unionist party in the Labour party but if there is s border poll we should remain neutral.

"I believe in the Union, I believe we are stronger together, I believe in the principles and values that underpin our Union but it is a crucial element that has sustained peace is the principle of consent and that underpins the Good Friday Agreement."

The Tories were enraged by the comments, with MSP Donald Cameron saying it was "astonishing".

The Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for the constitution said: “This is an astonishing position for a supposedly pro-UK party to take – to remain neutral on a vote that would see the break-up of the Union.

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“Sadly, it’s typical, though, as Labour’s backing for the Union in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland is lukewarm at best.

“Only the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, and our colleagues across the UK, can be trusted to stand firmly against the break-up of the UK.

“Labour is willing to see Northern Ireland leave the UK without a fight, is in effective coalition with the Welsh nationalists in Cardiff and refuses to stand up to the SNP on the constitution in Scotland, where they run six councils in coalition with them.

“Anas Sarwar must reject Louise Haigh’s comments and assure voters he supports Northern Ireland’s and Scotland’s continued place in the UK no matter the circumstances.”

Haigh's comments also fly in the face of leader Kier Starmer's own remarks.

Starmer said in July that he would be “on the side of unionists” arguing for Northern Ireland to remain in the UK.

He said: "I respect the principle that the decision, in the end, is for the people of the island of Ireland.

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“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.”

The shadow Northern Ireland minister's comments reflect Labour’s position since Tony Blair became leader and the party abandoned its policy of supporting Irish unity by consent.

Under Blair, Labour said it would no longer be a persuader for Irish unity.

His Northern Ireland secretary at the time said the agreement required the British government to remain neutral on the constitutional question.