UK Politics

McDonnell 'not expected to kneel' at Privy Council ceremony

John McDonnell Image copyright Getty Images

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell is to join the Privy Council but is not expected to kneel before the Queen, his spokesman has said.

A spokesman said the MP, a republican, would "adhere to any procedures asked of him" but he had not been informed of any "specific ceremonial requirements".

He follows in the footsteps of party leader and fellow republican Jeremy Corbyn, who was sworn in last year.

Mr Corbyn said at the time he and the Queen "shook hands like adults".

The Privy Council, a historic group of advisers to the monarch, currently has about 600 members, including former prime ministers and cabinet ministers as well as leaders of the opposition among others. Its regular meetings are usually only attended by Cabinet or very senior ministers.

A traditional part of the swearing-in ceremony at Buckingham Palace involves kneeling and kissing the hand of the Queen.

MPs who are privy counsellors are referred to as right honourable members in the House of Commons and can receive top secret security briefings.

Conservative former cabinet minister Lord Tebbit has criticised Mr McDonnell's appointment, given comments he has previously made about the IRA and former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher - for which Mr McDonnell apologised last year.

Confirming the appointment - alongside those of Conservative MPs Sir Oliver Heald QC, a justice minister, and House Office minister Brandon Lewis - a Downing Street spokesman said: "The Queen has been pleased to approve that John McDonnell MP be sworn of Her Majesty's most Honourable Privy Council."

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