Jeremy Corbyn sacks shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith

Jeremy Corbyn sacks shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has sacked shadow cabinet minister of Northern Ireland, Owen Smith.

Smith broke ranks with official Labour Party policy when he called for another EU referendum.

He was asked to stand down as shadow Northern Ireland secretary by the Labour leader today, after demanding a second vote after EU talks have ended.

He has been replaced by Rochdale MP and shadow housing minister Tony Lloyd.

Mr Smith said he would continue to "speak up" for what he called his "long-held views" on Brexit.

He has long been a supporter of the Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland peace talks.

He tweeted this evening about his sacking.

Mr Corbyn said his replacement, shadow minister for housing, communities and local government Mr Lloyd, was "highly experienced".

He said Mr Lloyd was "committed to ensuring that peace in Northern Ireland is maintained", as well as helping to steer the devolution deal "back on track".

Mr Smith called for Labour to back membership of the EU single market.

The Labour leader announced last month that the party wanted the UK to be a permanent member of a customs union with the EU after Brexit.

But Mr Smith, who unsuccessfully challenged Mr Corbyn for the party leadership in 2016, insisted Labour needed to do more than "just back a soft Brexit or guarantee a soft border in Ireland".

He wrote in an article for The Guardian: "If we insist on leaving the EU then there is realistically only one way to honour our obligations under the Good Friday Agreement and that is to remain members of both the customs union and the single market."