Former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has caused a fresh headache for Labour boss Sir Keir Starmer today, boasting that “Labour is not unionist” just a day after Starmer said he would back Northern Ireland remaining in the UK in any future Irish border poll.
Abbott was responding to her colleague Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the attention-seeking MP for Brighton Kemptown who was once suspended from the House of Commons for seizing the ceremonial mace before feebly handing it back over to a Commons official.
Russell-Moyle had claimed in a Twitter post that Labour “are not unionists we are democratic socialists that see strength of people coming together to cooperate.”
He went on to say that the party does not stand in Northern Ireland and that he defers to the “Republican/pro-Irish unification” stance of their SDLP sister party.
Abbott joined in with the apparent rebuke of Starmer’s stance, saying: “My colleague @lloyd_rm is exactly right. @UKLabour is not unionist. We take our lead from our sister party the SDLP who are republican and pro Irish unification”.
It will undermine attempts by Starmer to reframe Labour as a patriotic party that supports the United Kingdom as it is currently constituted, following a major report that suggested the party should place renewed emphasis on the flag and patriotism in its public messaging.
Abbott’s new pronouncement is not the first hurdle thrown up to the new strategy however, with historical footage emerging in February of Starmer boasting that he “often used to propose the abolition of the monarchy”.
Abbott is coming off an embarrassing radio appearance with Cathy Newman on Times Radio, in which she stuttered and stammered through an embarrassing minute-long car crash answer on which Corbyn-era policies need to be restored by Starmer.
Responding to her incomprehensible gibberish, one member of the public said she “makes Biden sound quite intelligible” while another joked: “If my wallet was half as thick – I would be a very rich man.”