Jeremy Corbyn still supports united Ireland but backs Good Friday Agreement

Posted On: 
23rd May 2018

Jeremy Corbyn still supports a united Ireland - but backs the methods set out in the Good Friday Agreement for achieving it.

The future of the Irish border is once again at the centre of political debate.
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Mr Corbyn's spokesman said "his view is on the record" ahead of his first trip to Northern Ireland since becoming Labour leader in 2015.

During his 32 years as a backbencher, Mr Corbyn made no secret of his support for Irish reunification and Sinn Fein - although he condemned IRA violence.

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Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, which was signed in 1998, partition can only end if a border poll finds there is majority support in both the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Asked if the Labour leader still supported a united Ireland, his spokesman said: "His view is on the record but in the context of the Good Friday Agreement and the new constitutional settlement in the north of Ireland the process by which such a thing could take place is clear and Jeremy supports that.

"It's a matter for the people of Northern Ireland and for the island of Ireland and it's something that can come about by the process laid out in the Good Friday Agreement.

"He over the years made his position clear that the majority of those people across the whole island of Ireland wanted to see that outcome - a united Ireland - but in the context of the Good Friday Agreement that can only come about through that constitutional process that's laid out in the Good Friday Agreement and Jeremy fully supports that."

Ireland's constitutional future has come under the spotlight again as a result of the Brexit vote, and whether that will lead to the return of a hard border on the island.

The SDLP, Labour's sister party in Northern Ireland, has called on Mr Corbyn to back staying in the European Economic Area as a way of keeping the UK in the single market. 

But his spokesman said: "We've made clear that we have very clear principles around what the best outcome from the Brexit negotiations is for the whole of Britain and that applies to Northern Ireland as well.

"That's based around retaining the benefits of the customs union and single market and supporting a new customs union with the EU which would have a strong British say in future trade deals and a new relationship with the single market, but not simply being a rule-taker.

"The EEA option clearly would not meet all those objectives."

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear about her commitment to the Union on a number of occasions."