Northern Ireland news

Karen Bradley: New Secretary of State is in favour of gay marriage

Karen Bradley arriving in 10 Downing Street before her appointment as new Secretary of State. Picture by John Stillwell, Press Association
Michael McHugh, Press Association

THE new Secretary of State is an ex-tax advisor who is in favour of gay marriage and opposes euthanasia.

Karen Bradley (47) moves from her former role as culture secretary, the Prime Minister's office confirmed.

She is a former organised crime minister at the Home Office who signed off the law making the National Crime Agency fully operational in Northern Ireland.

Ian Knox cartoon 9/1/17

The Staffordshire Moorlands MP, whose constituency covers the Peak District in central England, is married with two children.

Her first challenge will be to re-start talks aimed at restoring power-sharing.

It is a year since the late deputy first minister Martin McGuinness resigned from Stormont in protest at the DUP's handling of the botched renewable heat incentive scheme.

The British and Irish Governments are expected to kickstart another bid to restore devolution after several rounds of talks last year failed to produce a deal between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

If no agreement can be reached between the two largest parties, who are at odds over issues including a standalone Irish language act, then direct rule from Westminster may be introduced.

Ms Bradley is a chartered accountant and chartered tax adviser who worked in public practice from 1991 to 2004, first for Deloitte & Touche and then KPMG.

She was selected for Staffordshire Moorlands in July 2006 and was returned to Parliament at the general election in 2010.

In February 2014 she became minister for modern slavery and organised crime at the Home Office.

She introduced the Serious Crime Act to tackle organised crime and secured the passage of the Modern Slavery Act.

She was promoted to secretary of state for culture, media and sport in the government reshuffle in July 2016.

Ms Bradley said it was an "honour" to be appointed.

"I would like to pay the warmest tribute to my predecessor and friend, James Brokenshire, who did such an outstanding job," she said.

"I wish him all the very best for his medical treatment and for a speedy recovery."

She said she would work with all parties and the Irish government to help break the political impasse.

"I believe a devolved government in Belfast is best placed to address these issues and take the key decisions which affect people’s day to day lives - whether these relate to the economy, public services or issues of policing and justice," she said.

"We must also continue the work to deliver a Brexit that recognises Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances and avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland while maintaining the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.

"Alongside these issues, I am conscious of the need to establish a stronger economy and a shared society, to address the legacy of the past and to keep people safe and secure."

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