UK Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said that he longs to see a united Ireland – as long as the move has sufficient support from the people in the North.
Mr McDonnell is the second in command of the UK’s Labour party, behind Jeremy Corbyn, who is also in favour of ending partition under the right circumstances.
Labour are currently the opposition party but are in a strong position, with the Conservatives lacking an overall majority in the House of Commons.
Brexit is causing huge internal problems within the Conservative party which has led some political commentators to believe Labour could win the next election.
If that were to be the case, then the two most important people in British politics would be in favour of a united Ireland.
At a lunch at the house of Commons, Mr McDonnell said: “You know my background, I am a Republican.
“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.”
He also joked that he could join the Protestant Orange Order if there was another hung parliament in the next general election.
The Conservatives are currently being propped up by the loyalist DUP after failing to win a majority last time around.
It means that Prime Minister Theresa May is unable to negotiate the Brexit she envisages, which includes a ‘Sea border’ with the EU rather than a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Mr McDonnell said: “Nothing in these discussions should in any way cause any damage to the Good Friday Agreement and its implementation.
“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.”
He also said that he believes that the Conservatives are in such disarray that Labour could be in power ‘within months’.
He said: “This is not a government going out with a bang, but going out with a whisper.
“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.”
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling