Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire keeps job in PM Theresa May's Cabinet reshuffle

James Brokenshire
James Brokenshire

Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire has kept his job in Prime Minister Theresa May's Cabinet reshuffle.

The Prime Minister has announced her new front bench on Sunday. She had already confirmed her most senior ministers such as Chancellor Philip Hammond and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnston and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon will keep their positions.

She will only been able to carry out limited changes having seen her position seriously weakened by the election result.

On retaining his position, Mr Brokenshire said: “It is a privilege to be to have been asked by the Prime Minister to continue to serve as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland - particularly at such a crucial moment for Northern Ireland and the whole United Kingdom.

"The UK Government remains steadfast in its commitment to the Belfast Agreement and to governing in the interests of all parts of the community in Northern Ireland. It provides the basis for Northern Ireland’s continued political progress and as the Government we remain firmly committed to this.

“My immediate priority is reaching agreement on restoring an inclusive power-sharing Executive - which is what the people of Northern Ireland voted for in the March Assembly elections."

He continued: "The statutory deadline to restore a functioning Executive to Northern Ireland is 29 June. Time is short but there was real progress in the last round of political discussion. Agreement between the parties can be reached if there is goodwill on all sides.

“Talks must resume again as soon as possible and I will meet the party leaders and Irish Foreign Minister Flanagan in Belfast tomorrow. All those involved must engage in the full knowledge that the deadline of 29 June is final and immovable.

“The UK government will do everything in its power, working alongside the Irish government in relation to those areas where they have responsibility, to contribute to and support the process, steadfastly upholding the principles of the Belfast Agreement and its successors.

“Like the overwhelming majority across the community in Northern Ireland, I believe a devolved government in Belfast is the best way to address the key decisions which affect people’s day to day lives - whether these relate to the economy, security, public services or issues of policing and justice, as well as addressing the legacy of the past.

"A Northern Ireland Executive also has a vital part to play in ensuring that Northern Ireland’s interests are represented as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

“Northern Ireland’s political leaders now have this chance to take control and restore effective power sharing government under the current assembly mandate. If they do not, the power to make decisions passes to others. Their choice in the next three weeks will shape Northern Ireland’s future.”

Read more: Conservatives deal with DUP should not put Good Friday Agreement at risk: Enda Kenny

The announcement that Mr Hammond – who had been widely tipped for the axe – was carrying on at the Treasury was seen as an indication of the extent to which the Prime Minister's position has been undermined.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Brexit Secretary David Davis have also been told they will retain their positions.

Former justice secretary Michael Gove made a shock return to the Government ranks. Less than a year after sacking him, the Prime Minister said that Mr Gove would be the new Environment Secretary.

As Sunday's reshuffle progressed, many ministers kept their job. Damian Green's promotion to First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office and Liz Truss's demotion to Chief Secretary to the Treasury were the only other major changes.

Elsewhere Liam Fox remained Secretary for International Trade, Justine Greening at Education and Jeremy Hunt at health.

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