Belfast Telegraph

Nationalise shipyard, says McDonnell as he issues border poll call at Feile

Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said the issue of a border poll must be addressed as a result of the changing political climate due to Brexit and developments on the island of Ireland.

Mr McDonnell was speaking in St Mary's College in west Belfast last night. He was delivering the annual James Connolly lecture at Feile an Phobail.

He called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to nationalise Harland & Wolff.

Mr McDonnell, who met striking workers in the shipyard earlier yesterday, opened his address by declaring his support and solidarity for them.

It was vital that their skills not be lost, he said. Mr Johnson had 24 to 48 hours to "behave like a Prime Minister" and nationalise the company.

Mr McDonnell said it was "an absolute privilege" to deliver the lecture. He described Connolly as "a Marxist, a republican and a revolutionary" and said those three words would send some media into a spin and he imagined the "lurid headlines" that would result.

He said Connolly "resonated with his generation". Although a Marxist, he was not a state socialist but preferred communal ownership, a concept that was being revisited.

Mr McDonnell said Labour's programme was inspired by Connolly who was "revolted and angered" by poverty.

Like the 1916 leader, the party was furious at the waste of people's lives, he said.

There were 4.5m children living in poverty in the UK - two-thirds were living in families where someone was working which showed how low wages were. A million elderly lived in severe poverty, and homelessness had doubled.

Mr McDonnell said they were damning statistics for the fifth richest country in the world.

"We want social justice for everybody. Our objective is to improve the quality of life and life chances for everybody," he said.

"The magic money tree is in the Cayman Islands. We are going to dig it up and invest it to make people's lives better."

John McDonnell
John McDonnell

He pledged that a Labour government would change the UK's "low wages and long hours" economy. It would ban zero hour contracts and scrap the universal credit system and tuition fees.

"Education is a gift from one generation to another. It isn't a commodity to be bought and sold in the market," he added.

The Shadow chancellor also said that a no-deal Brexit must be stopped.

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