UK

Labour's McDonnell backs £369m Buckingham Palace repairs

Buckingham Palace Image copyright AFP

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who describes himself as a republican, has said he backs the £369m taxpayer-funded restoration of Buckingham Palace.

He said the Queen's residence was a "national monument" that needed to be preserved.

The 10-year refurbishment is due to be funded by an increase in the annual Sovereign Grant, from £43m to £71m.

The Treasury said an "urgent overhaul" was needed to prevent fire and flood damage.

Speaking to Matt Frei on LBC radio, Mr McDonnell said: "It's a national monument... national heritage, it's going to be treated that way, in the same way as the House of Commons.

"When you have these old buildings, they have to be looked after."

Image copyright PA
Image caption John McDonnell hints that he may have knelt before the Queen

Asked if the Queen should fund the repairs herself, he said: "She may well consider that. I am a republican but when it comes to decisions like that, I think they are left to her."

An online petition created on Friday calling for the Royal family to fund the repairs themselves has gathered around 50,000 signatures.

Mr McDonnell also indicated that he may have knelt before the Queen when he was recently inducted into the Privy Council.

Asked if he went on "bended knee", he said: "I did the usual protocols."

"I think you're not supposed to talk about what happens... I'm not sure what the rules are. You can say I did the usual protocol - not far distant from the one you're suggesting."

As a member of the Privy Council, he is now entitled to receive security briefings and to be known as the Right Honourable.

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