Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

The Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is a member of the British Shadow Cabinet responsible for the scrutiny of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and their department, the Northern Ireland Office. The post is currently held by Louise Haigh, following the resignation of Tony Lloyd.[1] The holder is assisted by junior shadow ministers in the Commons and in the Lords.

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Louise Haigh

since 6 April 2020
AppointerLeader of the Opposition
Inaugural holderMerlyn Rees
Formation24 March 1972
WebsiteThe Shadow Cabinet

Until recently there had been a 'bi-partisan' attitude to Northern Ireland affairs in the House of Commons but the role is influenced by the relationship between the main Official Opposition and parties in the country. The Conservative Party, for example, generally supports the unionist cause and in 2008 re-formalised a (since ended) link with the Ulster Unionist Party and relied on the support of the Democratic Unionist Party until the 2019 United Kingdom General Election in the House of Commons, while Labour has traditionally supported Irish nationalism and is loosely allied to the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). The Liberal Democrats are linked with the cross-community Alliance Party.

Shadow Secretaries of State

Name Entered office Left office Political party Shadow Cabinet
Merlyn Rees 24 March 1972 4 March 1974 Labour Harold Wilson
Francis Pym 4 March 1974 29 October 1974 Conservative  
Edward Heath
Ian Gilmour 29 October 1974 18 February 1975 Conservative
Airey Neave
18 February 1975 30 March 1979 Conservative
Margaret Thatcher
Roy Mason 4 May 1979 14 July 1979 Labour James Callaghan
Brynmor John 14 July 1979 8 December 1980 Labour
Don Concannon 8 December 1980 31 October 1983 Labour Michael Foot
Peter Archer 31 October 1983 13 July 1987 Labour  
Neil Kinnock
Kevin McNamara
13 July 1987 20 October 1994 Labour
John Smith
Margaret Beckett
Mo Mowlam 20 October 1994 2 May 1997 Labour Tony Blair
Andrew Mackay 23 June 1997 14 September 2001 Conservative William Hague
Quentin Davies 14 September 2001 11 November 2003 Conservative Iain Duncan Smith
David Lidington 11 November 2003 2 July 2007 Conservative Michael Howard
David Cameron
Owen Paterson 2 July 2007 11 May 2010 Conservative
Shaun Woodward 11 May 2010 7 October 2011 Labour Harriet Harman
Ed Miliband
Vernon Coaker 7 October 2011 7 October 2013 Labour
Ivan Lewis 7 October 2013 13 September 2015 Labour
Harriet Harman
Vernon Coaker 13 September 2015 26 June 2016 Labour Jeremy Corbyn
Dave Anderson 26 June 2016 14 June 2017 Labour
Owen Smith 14 June 2017 23 March 2018 Labour
Tony Lloyd 23 March 2018 6 April 2020 Labour
Louise Haigh 6 April 2020 Incumbent Labour Keir Starmer

See also