Diane Abbott: Labour is not a unionist party

Diane Abbott: Labour is not a unionist party
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We don't hear much from Diane Abbott these days. Since leaving the front bench in April 2020, the former shadow home secretary has largely dedicated herself to writing her forthcoming memoirs: 'A Woman Like Me' due in all good book stores next summer. But this weekend the Mojito swilling backbencher returned to the fray with a pointed intervention on Keir Starmer's visit to Northern Ireland.

Responding to Starmer's claims that Labour would campaign for Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK in any future border poll, Abbott weighed in to amplify the comments of fellow left-winger Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Brighton's answer to Citizen Smith. Abbott, who arguably came within just 2,227 votes of having responsibility for MI5 in 2017, responded to Starmer's claim by saying: '@UKLabour is not unionist. We take our lead from our sister party the SDLP who are republican and pro Irish reunification.'

Such a proclamation from the sexagenarian socialist was instantly seized on by Labour's opponents across the rest of the UK as proof of the party's shakiness on the Union, coming just months after a leaked party strategy document suggested a focus on British values and the British flag was necessary to win back voters.

As Starmer's predecessor will appreciate, it's not the first time an Abbott intervention has caused a Labour leader serious headaches.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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