United Ireland gamble: Labour considers make-or-break risk by piggy-backing on Sinn Fein

A member of the shadow Cabinet suggested the matter would be a “key issue” for the party leading up to its annual conference in September. The unnamed MP, who Politico said was an ally of outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn, said: “The Sinn Fein manifesto was basically our manifesto, so you can see a surge for our kind of politics. “Obviously we currently support the Social Democratic and Labour Party, but whether or not we should back Sinn Fein is a debate that should be had in the party.

“We have had people fighting for many years about the reunification of Ireland.”

However, some Labour MPs have warned an association with the party, which has historic links to the IRA, could be damaging for reputation.

It is also feared support for Irish reunification could dissuade traditional Labour voters who believe in keeping the United Kingdom together.

Mr Corbyn has faced criticism in the past for meeting then-Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, during the peak of the Troubles in the 1980s.

A move towards Sinn Fein by the Labour Party may also put at risk historic ties with the SDLP.

Once Northern Ireland’s most popular nationalist party, the SDLP has taken a more moderate approach the Irish unification than Sinn Fein.

The SDLP has openly said it recognises the need to gain public consent before putting reunification into process.

Muiris MacCarthaigh, a politics lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “For Labour to switch horses to Sinn Féin would be quite a statement.

“But maybe not so radical any more from this side of the Irish Sea, given it is the largest party on the island and a party that is becoming more active on traditional left-wing ground.”

Another senior Labour MP expressed their reticence for a move towards Sinn Fein, saying: “Corbyn’s perceived links to the IRA went down catastrophically on the doorstep.

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“Moving closer to Sinn Fein would simply make things worse.

“When it comes to Ireland’s constitutional future, we should stay out of it – our only job is to uphold the Good Friday Agreement.”

Sinn Fein clinched a surprising number of seats in the most recent Irish general election, securing 37 to Fianna Fail’s 38 and Fine Gael’s 35.

This was mostly attributed to Sinn Fein’s manifesto of increased public sector spending, the abolition of tuition fees, healthcare and rent reduction.

These are all policies which are shared with the Labour Party.

But Labour’s Shadow Foreign Minister, Lloyd Russell-Moyle dismissed any suggestions of the party switching allegiance.

He suggested anyone pushing for change was simply “trying to cause trouble” within the party.

Mr Russell-Moyle added: “What we must not allow is for those conditions to be gerrymandered one way or another because we take a political decision.

“I haven’t had any conversation in the Labour Party about [backing Sinn Féin] whatsoever.

“I don’t think it’s going to be an issue whatsoever at the next Labour Party conference.”

Whilst Labour’s future allegiances are unclear, they will almost undoubtedly be driven by the opinion of the leader.

Sir Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey are the final three candidates left in the race.

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