Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has told how he longs for a united Ireland, but insisted he recognises the democratic will of the people.
The long-standing Republican dismissed suggestions his dream would be realised as a result of the Irish backstop row that has stalled Brexit talks.
Mr McDonnell went on to joke that he would put his application in for the Protestant Orange Order however, if the next election led to a hung parliament.
The Democratic Unionist Party’s ten MPs currently prop up Theresa May’s minority administration.
At a lunch with journalists in Westminster, he said: “I’m a republican. I long for a united Ireland, but I recognise democracy.
“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.
“Nothing in these discussions should in any way cause any damage to the Good Friday Agreement and its implementation.”
He 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 apologised in 2015 for previously saying the IRA should be honoured for its role in bringing the British Government to the negotiating table.