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Former Tory chief whip Julian Smith replaces Karen Bradley as NI Secretary

Former Government chief whip Julian Smith has been appointed the new Northern Ireland Secretary (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Former Government chief whip Julian Smith has been appointed the new Northern Ireland Secretary (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Sajid Javid
Priti Patel

By Our Political Staff

Former Conservative chief whip Julian Smith has been named as the new Northern Ireland Secretary.

He replaces Karen Bradley, who said she was proud of her achievements in Government as she stepped down as Northern Ireland Secretary.

Congratulating Mr Smith, DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted that he has an "enormous in-tray". She added that it was "important that talks can continue to restore devolution. Our schools and hospitals are crying out for key decisions to be made".

Mrs Bradley had spent 18 months heading the NIO, but failed to find agreement between the Stormont parties to restore power-sharing. She was also widely criticised for her lack of knowledge about Northern Ireland and the political situation.

Mr Smith, who grew up in Stirling, was elected as MP for Skipton and Ripon in 2010 and promoted to chief whip by Theresa May in 2017. He oversaw the biggest Government defeat in UK Parliamentary history as he repeatedly failed to secure support for Theresa May's withdrawal agreement.

Now serving under a firmly pro-Brexit Prime Minister, Mr Smith had previously questioned the wisdom of leaving the EU.

He has experience of working with the DUP. When the Government was trying to secure DUP support for Mrs May's failed withdrawal agreement earlier this year, Mr Smith was one of Mrs May's negotiating team.

He also addressed the DUP's annual conference at the La Mon Hotel in Belfast in 2017.

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann congratulated Mr Smith, but said he must "end the indulgence of Sinn Fein and DUP" and restore Stormont without delay.

More than half of Mrs May's Cabinet either quit or was sacked by Mr Johnson. His new-look Cabinet included Sajid Javid as Chancellor and Priti Patel as Home Secretary. Dominic Raab was appointed Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State - effectively making him Mr Johnson's Deputy Prime Minister.

The new Cabinet sees Michael Gove, Mr Johnson's Vote Leave colleague who scuppered his last leadership bid, moved to become the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Gavin Williamson, who along with Mr Gove had been tipped as a possible Northern Ireland Secretary, has been appointed Education Secretary.

Former NI Secretary Theresa Villiers, another Brexiteer, replaced Mr Gove as Environment Secretary. But her successor, James Brokenshire - who had gone on to become Secretary of State for Local Government - was sacked.

Tory leadership rival Jerermy Hunt was forced from his role as Foreign Secretary and his supporters were rounded on by the new Tory leader. Mr Johnson sacked Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary and Penny Mordaunt as Defence Secretary. Both had backed Mr Hunt.

Also leaving the frontbenches after Mr Johnson was formally appointed as PM by the Queen were Hunt-backer Damian Hinds, who was Education Secretary, and Business Secretary Greg Clark.

Ben Wallace was promoted from Security Minister to Defence Secretary and Liz Truss moved to International Trade Secretary from Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Stephen Barclay kept his role at the head of the Department for Exiting the EU, while Matt Hancock remained Health Secretary.

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