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Shadow NI Secretary Peter Kyle says ‘no serious prospect’ of united Ireland poll

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Peter Kyle speaks to the media at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. (Liam McBurney/PA)

Peter Kyle speaks to the media at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. (Liam McBurney/PA)

Peter Kyle speaks to the media at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. (Liam McBurney/PA)

There is “no serious prospect” or suggestion of a border poll being called imminently, the new Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has claimed.

Labour MP Peter Kyle also refused to confirm if he would campaign for Northern Ireland to remain within the UK in the event of such a vote.

He also refused to be drawn on if a poll would be held within his lifetime and said he would only trigger a poll as Secretary of State when the “calls become serious”.

The replacement for former Shadow Secretary Louise Haigh said he would follow the Labour Party’s long-standing position and would respect the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement, but rejected suggestions his response differed from party leader Sir Keir Starmer who has said he would campaign for Northern Ireland to remain in the UK.

“Northern Ireland has to be master of its own destiny,” he told BBC NI’s Good Morning Ulster radio show.

“That is something we have very proudly stood by. We will not act in a way that is seen to be coercive on Northern Ireland.

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“You need the space to make big constitutional issues. But let’s be very clear, there is no border poll on the agenda at the moment, there is no serious prospect of it.

“The Labour Party believes the UK is a force for good... and collectively we are a force for good around the world.

“That is not incompatible with the unique circumstances that are faced in Northern Ireland. We signed an international treaty, one of the Labour Party’s great legacies in office is the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and we will respect the terms and spirit of it.”

Mr Kyle replaced Ms Haigh after she was moved from her position in a party reshuffle last month.

The move came just a week after Ms Haigh was criticised for suggesting the UK Government should remain neutral in the event of a border poll and said it was “not my job to be a persuader for the union”.

The Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley made the comments on the border poll during an interview with Darren McCaffrey on the GB News channel.

Ms Haigh later disputed that her move from shadow NI Secretary had anything to do with her comments on a border poll.

When pressed on the issue, on Wednesday, Mr Kyle added: “For those of us who really care about the Union the best way to do so is to make the union work in Westminster.”

“If in some distant future... this matter happens, we will revert to the Good Friday Agreement and our international commitments.”

When asked when he would decide to call a border poll and the criteria he would use if he became the Secretary of State, Mr Kyle said he would “judge that at a time when those calls become serious”.

“I would judge it very carefully set out by the criteria in the Good Friday Agreement. If the time comes when the request is made seriously and in a sustained way, I would revert to the Good Friday Agreement and make a judgement at that time.

“It is not something I am going to do in advance. My job is to come here and be a partner in the moment.”


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