Louise Haigh has been replaced as Northern Ireland’s Shadow Secretary of State as part of a major reshuffle by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
The move comes just a week after Ms Haigh was criticised for suggesting the British Government should remain neutral in the event of a border poll.
The Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley made the comments on the border poll during an interview with Darren McCaffrey on the GB News channel.
However, Ms Haigh tweeted on Tuesday that her move from shadow NI Secretary had anything to do with her comments on a border poll.
Both the DUP and UUP criticised Ms Haigh’s comments, which undermined Sir Keir’s position after he said earlier this year he would campaign for Northern Ireland to remain in the UK.
In a tweet on Monday evening, Ms Haigh said it had been an “incredible honour” to serve as the Shadow Secretary of State.
“I have met the most amazing people, committed to building peace and relationships across these islands,” she continued.
“And such a privilege to defend Labour’s legacy on the Good Friday Agreement and its vision for a shared future.”
Can put this one to bed right now: I was not moved for restating a 25-year old Labour Party policy https://t.co/knvz9t53Rt— Louise Haigh (@LouHaigh) November 30, 2021
Ms Haigh has been moved to the position of Shadow Transport Secretary, and will be replaced as Shadow NI Secretary by Hove and Portslade MP Peter Kyle.
In a reshuffle of his front bench, Sir Keir said the move would give him a “smaller, more focused shadow cabinet that mirrors the shape of the government we are shadowing”.
"We must hold the Conservative Government to account on behalf of the public and demonstrate that we are the right choice to form the next government,” he added.
Alliance MP Stephen Farry said Ms Haigh had been an “amazing” Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and wished her well in her new role.
During her interview on GB News, Ms Haigh was asked what case she would make for preserving the union, especially to nationalists open to staying in the UK.
“The principal of consent is still very much intact,” she replied.
“It is only for the people of Northern Ireland to determine their own constitutional future and polls still suggest there is still a very firm majority for remaining in the United Kingdom.
“It’s not my job to be a persuader for the union.”
Ms Haigh added that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “not a good custodian of the Good Friday Agreement”.
DUP MP Carla Lockhart said the comments were a “fundamental misunderstanding of the principle of consent”.
UUP MLA Steve Aiken called the approach “very puzzling” and said “nobody considers it even remotely likely” the Irish Government would adopt a stance of neutrality in the event of a vote.