Clever move, if it works out. Kate Hoey is not only a Labour MP (albeit a near permanently off message on), but she was one of the earliest members of the Civil Rights movement in Northern Ireland when she was a student PE teacher and worked closely with Michael Farrell in People’s Democracy. British rights for British citizens was her prime motivation.
Kate Hoey, the former Home Office minister under Tony Blair who is one of the most prominent Eurosceptics in the Labour party, is being lined up as a possible leader of the no campaign in the referendum on Britain’s EU membership.
A leading Labour donor who is expected to bankroll the “Brexit” side described Hoey, the MP for Vauxhall, as a “tough fighter” who would appeal across the political spectrum.
John Mills, who was the national director of the no campaign in the 1975 EEC referendum, said: “I think she is a very strong, feisty figure. She is respected, she is liked. She knows her own mind, she is a tough fighter, she has been around for a long while.
She is a reliable cogent figure. These are very important qualities that you need in somebody who is going to lead a campaign like this.”
But what of her opponents in Northern Ireland? Are they ready with something more than empty slogans? If NI proves to be the difference in a tight vote, the No camp in London feel her local voice could carry enough doubters to swing the overall vote.
Will the DUP follow their strong Euroscepticism and push for Brexit? Or will they judge it a high stakes game with too few local returns? Could set up an interesting scenario for the next Assembly elections (whenever they be).
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty