Karen Bradley backs Gove in Tory leadership contest - report
Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley has backed Michael Gove for Tory leader and the next prime minister, it has been reported.
The Sunday Times reports the MP backed the environment secretary to succeed Theresa May.
Launching his campaign to be Conservative leader Mr Gove said he would lead talks to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland describing Karen Bradley as a "brilliant" secretary of state.
He was accused of being "out of touch" with the comments.
Mrs Bradley has come in for fierce criticism on several occasions since taking office in January 2018.
She admitted not knowing unionists didn't vote for nationalists and vice versa, caused outrage by saying security force killings in Northern Ireland were "not crimes" and instead military and police acted in a "dignified and appropriate way". She later apologised for the remarks.
And victims of historical institutional abuse accused the Mrs Bradley of using them as "blackmail" in order to get agreement in the talks process. Something she denied.
She was also criticised for refusing to engage with the Press.
Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill, on Sunday, said Mrs Bradley was "at best incompetent" and played no "fruitful role" in Northern Ireland society.
It is understood Karen Bradley cast her vote in the first round contest by proxy as she was in Northern Ireland at the time of the poll. However, she had refused to state who she was backing.
Michael Gove was among the front runners in the race to Number 10 among the Tories until revelations about his drug taking emerged.
Boris Johnson is considered favourite with Jeremy Hunt a distant second. Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab and Rory Stewart are also among the contenders.
Belfast Telegraph Digital