'I am a Republican' – Labour's John McDonnell admits he 'longs for' a united Ireland

'I am a Republican' – Labour's John McDonnell admits he 'longs for' a united Ireland

SHADOW CHANCELLOR John McDonnell has revealed he hopes to see an end to partition on the island of Ireland.

The Labour politician declared that he "longs for" a united Ireland, but only if the historic move had popular support in the North.

Speaking at a lunch in the House of Commons, Jeremy Corbyn's right-hand man said he was "tempted" by the suggestion that Brexit could trigger fresh moves to withdraw the province from the United Kingdom.

"You know my background, I am a Republican," Mr McDonnell said.

"I long for a united Ireland. But I recognise democracy and Ireland will not be reunited on the basis of some contortions around the relationship with the EU.

"It will only be reunited on the basis of the popular support of the Irish people, and that’s what I respect".

Mr McDonnell went on to joke that he would apply to join the Protestant Orange Order if the next UK general election led to a hung parliament.

The DUP's 10 MPs currently prop up Theresa May's government but have given a mixed reception to the Prime Minister treatment of the Irish border dilemma during the Brexit negotiations.

"Nothing in these discussions should in any way cause any damage to the Good Friday Agreement and its implementation," McDonnell added.

"There will be some curious relationships that come out of a general election.

"I can get my application for the Orange Order and order my bowler hat and sash for the marching season. You never know."

Mr McDonnell also told the lunch that Labour could be in government "within months" if the ongoing Brexit turmoil brings down Mrs May.

"This is not a government going out with a bang, but going out with a whisper," he said.

"If a deal comes back that protects jobs then yes [Labour] will support it. If it doesn't, we will vote against and we'll call for a general election.

"If there isn't a general election, we'll have a fall back position and there might well be a people's vote of some sort."

Mr McDonnell was previously forced to apologise in 2015 for claiming that the IRA should be given credit for its role in bringing the British Government to the negotiating table.

The Liverpool-born 67-year-old trained to become a Catholic priest before pursuing his career in politics.