13/02/2020

PM Sacks NI Secretary Julian Smith

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith has been sacked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

A key figure in the restoration of power sharing, Mr Smith was widely perceived as a strong secretary.

He lasted 204 days in the role after succeeding Karen Bradley in July 2019.

It's understood the MP was removed from his position early this morning, Thursday 13, as the Prime Minister reshuffles his cabinet.

Mr Smith tweeted: "Serving the people of Northern Ireland has been the biggest privilege. I am extremely grateful to Boris Johnson for giving me the chance to serve this amazing part of our country. The warmth and support from people across NI has been incredible. Thank you so much."

A replacement has not yet been announced.

The outgoing secretary was an integral figure to the return of devolved government in Northern Ireland last month, along with the Irish government.
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SDLP Leader and new MP Colum Eastwood was among those to pay him tribute. He wrote on Twitter: "Thank you @JulianSmithUK for your tireless commitment to devolution, for the work you've done for victims of historical institutional abuse & for securing much needed resource for Derry.

"Sacking the most successful SoS in a decade shows Johnson's dangerous indifference to us."

The decision is so far proving unpopular among local politicians, as well as campaigners for victims of historical abuse, who welcomed the MP for Skipton and Ripon's action to provide long-awaited compensation through Parliament.

DUP Leader Arlene Foster added her well-wishes on Twitter, writing: "Spoke with @JulianSmithUK a short time ago to thank him for his help in getting devolution restored. We may not have always agreed (we did sometimes) but his dedication to the role was incredible. Best wishes to him and his family. Always welcome in Fermanagh."

Whoever is next to fill the role will be the region's fourth secretary in under four years.



(JG/CM)

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