Corbyn sacks shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith for new Brexit poll call

Corbyn sacks shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith for new Brexit poll call
Jeremy Corbyn (right) and Owen Smith, pictured together in 2016. Picture: PA

The British Labour party's shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith has been "asked to stand down" after calling for a second Brexit referendum.

Mr Smith made the call in an article in the

Guardian

Mr Smith said he had been sacked by party leader Jeremy Corbyn for his views on the "damage" Brexit will do to the UK's economy and the Good Friday Agreement.

In an apparent message to Mr Corbyn he added: "Those views are shared by Labour members and supporters and I will continue to speak up for them, and in the interest of our country."

He has been replaced by Tony Lloyd, who Jeremy Corbyn said "is a highly experienced former government minister who is committed to ensuring that peace in Northern Ireland is maintained and helping to steer the devolution deal back on track."

Labour former Cabinet minister Peter Hain accused Jeremy Corbyn of a "terrible Stalinist purge". The former Northern Ireland secretary said Owen Smith had been doing a "terrific job" and "in a shadow cabinet with a few big hitters he was definitely one".

Labour MP Anna Turley said Mr Smith's sacking was "disappointing" and he would be a loss to the front bench.

Former Cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw told Mr Smith he was "very sorry to see you go".

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: "Owen Smith was a valued colleague, he wanted to make a contribution to the debate and he will be able to continue to do so.

"What he can't do is sit on our front bench and advance a position which is simply not Labour Party policy."

Ms Abbott herself wrote to constituents in November saying she would "argue for the right of the electorate to vote" on the Brexit deal.

But she told BBC Radio 4's Any Questions: "We have debated this in the Labour Party, debated it seriously because we take the referendum result seriously.

"But we are not calling for a second referendum."

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