Yorkshire MP and former Chief Whip Julian Smith has been appointed Northern Ireland Secretary as new Prime Minister Boris Johnson carried out a dramatic shake-up at the top of government.
The MP for Skipton and Ripon since 2010 will take on the brief after Karen Bradley was ousted, as Mr Johnson made sweeping changes to his Cabinet on his first day as Prime Minister. Later Richmond MP Rishi Sunak was announced as the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury, meaning he will attend Cabinet.
Mr Johnson yesterday carried out a brutal cull of Mrs May’s Cabinet within hours of being asked to form a new government by the Queen, forming a new top team dedicated to his goal of delivering Brexit.
Sajid Javid was appointed as Mr Johnson’s Chancellor, with Brexiteers Priti Patel and Dominic Raab returning to the Cabinet as Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary respectively.
Mr Raab will also be First Secretary of State, effectively making him Mr Johnson’s Deputy Prime Minister, while Michael Gove becomes Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Chris Grayling will return to the back benches after being ousted as Transport Secretary, while Jeremy Hunt, Mr Johnson’s rival in the Tory leadership race, left the Government after refusing to be demoted from Foreign Secretary.
Mr Smith has been through a difficult period at the helm of the Whip’s office under Theresa May, with the Government suffering some of its worst ever Commons defeats over Brexit. His new brief could prove equally challenging, with the region still without a functioning executive after power-sharing collapsed.
In Northern Ireland, the emphasis will be on Brexit and its impact on the Irish border, restoring devolved political powersharing at Stormont and combating the threat posed by dissident republicans.
Mr Smith has previously campaigned hard for a fairer funding formula for rural schools. He has also been closely involved in bringing the Tour de France Grand Depart to Yorkshire in 2014. Prior to becoming an MP, he was an entrepreneur, working in executive recruitment.
He grew up in Stirling in Scotland and read history and English at the University of Birmingham, earlier educated at a local comprehensive.
Kirsty McManus, national director of the Institute of Directors Northern Ireland, said: "Given our unique circumstances in Northern Ireland in terms of our vulnerability to the impact of a no-deal Brexit, we will seek an early meeting with Julian as we work to convey the concerns of local business leaders on this and other key issues including skills and productivity."