Who are the new Ministers at the Northern Ireland Office?
Julian Smith MP has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Skipton and Ripon since 2010 and prior to being appointed was the Government Chief Whip and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury since November 2017 after two years in various Junior Whip positions. Prior to entering politics, he worked in recruitment.
Mr Smith campaigned for a Remain vote in the 2016 EU Referendum.
Mr Smith replaces Karen Bradley, who will return to the Conservative Party backbenches. Top of the new NI Secretary’s in-tray will be engagement with the political parties as the talks process to restore the Northern Ireland Executive continue, and engagement with civic society on Brexit.
Joining Julian Smith at the Northern Ireland Office is Nick Hurd MP. Mr Hurd has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner since 2005 and will serve as Minister of State for Northern Ireland concurrently with the position of Minister for London. Mr Hurd campaigned for a Remain vote in the 2016 EU Referendum and a previous position in government included four years as Minister for Civil Society, in David Cameron's administration. Mr Hurd is the eldest son of Douglas Hurd, who himself served as Northern Ireland Secretary under Margaret Thatcher, from 1984 to 1985. He replaces John Penrose MP.
Also appointed last week was Robin Walker MP, who will join the Northern Ireland Office as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State. He will serve in the same position in the Scotland Office. Mr Walker has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Worcester since 2010 and comes to the NIO from DExEU, where he served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary since its creation in 2016.
Lord Duncan of Springbank remains as post as the NIO's spokesperson in the House of Lords and will also serve in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Commenting on the appointments, NICVA's Head of Policy & Public Affairs, Geoff Nuttall, said:
“We look forward to working with new Ministers as they get to grips with the pressing issues facing Northern Ireland society and the voluntary and community sector, including the lack of government, budgetary and funding pressures, and avoiding the major societal threat posed by a potential no deal Brexit.”