Northern Ireland

James Brokenshire appointed new Northern Ireland secretary

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Media captionJames Brokenshire has replaced Theresa Villiers as Northern Ireland secretary, as Enda McClafferty reports

James Brokenshire has been appointed as the government's new Northern Ireland secretary.

He replaces Theresa Villiers who quit the government on Thursday after turning down a non-cabinet role.

Mr Brokenshire previously served under new Prime Minister Theresa May as immigration minister at the Home Office.

The Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup was in favour of a Remain vote in last month's EU referendum.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Theresa Villiers quit the government after being offered a role that was "not one which I felt I could take on"

In a statement, he said it was a "great honour" to have been asked to take on the role.

He said Mrs Villiers had worked "tirelessly for the people of Northern Ireland".

Mr Brokenshire said one of his "key priorities" was to continue with the "full implementation" of the Stormont House and Fresh Start agreements to tackle paramilitarism, put the Northern Ireland Executive's finances on a secure footing and "deal with the legacy of the past".

He also said Northern Ireland's interests would need to be protected during the process of the UK leaving the EU, including in relation to the Irish border.

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"I am looking forward to working closely over the coming weeks and months with the executive, the Irish government and the whole community in Northern Ireland to build a brighter, more secure future for everyone," he said.

Mr Brokenshire was MP for Hornchurch and Rainham from 2005 until the constituency was abolished in 2010.

Before entering parliament he was a partner at an international law firm.

From May 2011 to May 2015, he served as security minister at the Home Office.

That role included supporting Mrs May, the then home secretary, with oversight of the work of MI5 and the national police counter-terrorism network.

Image copyright PA
Image caption New Prime Minister Theresa May talked to Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness on Thursday

His responsibilities also included the government's counter-terrorism strategy and he was part of the prime minister's extremism taskforce.

He also led negotiations with the Jordanian government to secure the deportation of the radical cleric Abu Qatada.

Earlier on Thursday, Mrs May spoke with Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

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