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John McDonnell Backs Public Funding For Buckingham Palace Refurbishment

The central London palace is a "national monument," Labour's shadow chancellor said, and should be funded as such.

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Buckingham Palace.
Jack Taylor / Getty Images

Buckingham Palace.

Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell has expressed support for the public funding of the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace, which is estimated to cost £369m.

Speaking on LBC radio, McDonnell, a republican, said that the palace is a public "national monument" and should be funded as such.

Appearing later on BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, McDonnell reiterated his support for the costs being covered by public money.

Queen should 'consider' contributing to palace repair says @johnmcdonnellMP #marr

"It's a national monument... national heritage, it's going to be treated that way, in the same way as the House of Commons," he said.

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

He did however add that if the Queen did choose to pick up the cost, this would not be unwelcome.

After hinting at what can be expected for Wednesday's Autumn Statement, which is reported to include £1.3bn to tackle congestion on Britain's roads, was also in favour of supporting the cost of Buckingham Palace's refurbishment.

Highlighting that work to the extent which is proposed had not been done since the 1950, Hammond said he believed its current state was "frankly a hazard, a fire risk, a flood risk".

He added that it was "never an easy decision, but sometimes we have to make these difficult long term decisions".

But many members of the public, it would seem, do not agree. A petition to make the royal family pay for the refurbishment themselves has been signed more than 80,000 times.

"There is a national housing crisis, the NHS is in crisis, austerity is forcing cuts in many front line services. Now the Royals expect us to dig deeper to refurbish Buckingham Palace," the petition's creator, Mark Johnson, wrote. "The Crown's wealth is inestimable. This is, in a word, outrageous."

On Twitter, many people were equally outraged.

"Tories say we need to cut our cloth according to our means. We can't afford Buckingham Palace refurb in times of austerity. Sell it," wrote one tweeter.

"@johnmcdonnellMP Not a penny of public money should be spent on Buckingham Palace until the UK's homeless have somewhere warm & dry to sleep," wrote another.

Following the announcement for the planned refurbishment, news that America's president-elect Donald Trump plans to visit Buckingham Palace in summer 2017 emerged.

Laura Silver is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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