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Julian Smith: New NI secretary holds first party talks

Newly appointed Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith leaves Downing Street

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Reuters

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Newly appointed Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith leaving Downing Street on Wednesday

The new secretary of state is carrying out his first round of engagements in Northern Ireland on Friday.

Julian Smith, MP for Yorkshire constituency of Skipton and Ripon, is holding separate talks with each of the five main parties.

On Wednesday, outgoing secretary Karen Bradley was sacked by the new prime minister, Boris Johnson.

Although he was previously the Conservative chief whip, Mr Smith is not widely known outside Westminster.

However in his prior role, he worked closely with the DUP and attended the party’s annual conference in 2017 due to the confidence and supply agreement which keeps the Conservatives in power.

Irish broadcaster RTÉ is reporting that the Tánaiste (Ireland’s deputy prime minister), Simon Coveney, is also due to meet Mr Smith in Belfast on Friday.

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Julian Smith talking to Ian Paisley at the DUP party conference in 2017

Mr Smith will meet the DUP leadership on Friday morning, as well as members of the other four main parties, in a series of quick-fire breakfast meetings.

He will also carry out a series of other engagements as he quickly tries to come to terms with a brief which will be dominated by Brexit and the need to restore devolution.

Mr Smith backed Remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

As chief whip, he was unable to guide Theresa May’s proposed EU Withdrawal Agreement through the House of Commons.

Julian Smith: New NI secretary holds first party talks}

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