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McDonnell: I long for united Ireland, but not by Brexit

JOHN McDONNELL has said he dreams of a united Ireland, amid rising tensions over the issue of the Irish backstop in the Brexit talks.

The shadow chancellor (pictured) told journalists at Westminster: ‘I’m a Republican. I long for a united Ireland, but I recognise democracy.’

He dismissed suggestions his wish would come true as a result of the backstop row, saying: ‘Ireland will not be united on the basis of some contortions around the issue of 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 added: ‘Nothing in these discussions should in any way cause any damage to the Good Friday Agreement and its implementation.’

He joked that despite his views he might join the unionist Orange Order if the next election led to a hung parliament. The Democratic Unionist Party currently props up Theresa May’s minority administration. ‘There will be some curious relationships that come out of a general election,’ he said. ‘I can get my application for the Orange Order and order my bowler hat and sash for the marching season.’ Mr McDonnell apologised in 2015 for previously saying the IRA should be honoured for its role in bringing the British government to the negotiating table.

Medicine fears keep health boss awake

A TOP health official has told MPs that concerns over Brexit — including securing medicine supplies — are keeping him awake at night.

Sir Chris Wormald, the Department of Health’s permanent secretary, said he also worries about the effect quitting the EU will have on the NHS workforce and Britons needing healthcare during trips to the continent.

He told the Commons Brexit committee that buffer stocks of medicines were being organised but there would be other decisions that needed to be made ‘along the way’.