Northern Ireland news

Secretary of state Bradley backs Gove for Conservative leadership

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley speaking to the media outside Stormont House as as attempts to restore power-sharing at Stormont continues. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 30, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Politics. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

SECRETARY of state Karen Bradley is understood to be backing Michael Gove as the next leader of the Conservative Party.

According to the Sunday Times the Tory cabinet minister has pledged her support to Mr Gove ahead of the other five contenders, who include former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.

It is understood, however that Ms Bradley will not public endorse Mr Gove's candidacy during the current Stormont talks process.

The Northern Ireland secretary has faced increasing pressure recently for her failure to pass compensation legislation for victims of institutional abuse through Westminster.

Last week the main political parties in the north signed a joint letter to the secretary of state asking her to urgently agree their proposed changes to legislation that would see redress for victims and survivors.

Ms Bradley's lack of engagement with the local media has also drawn criticism.

The secretary of state's apparent endorsement of Mr Gove comes just days after the completion of the first round of the leadership vote to replace Theresa May.

Following the vote, which was comfortably won by Boris Johnson, candidates; Andrea Leadson, Mark Harper and Esther McVey were eliminated, while Matt Hancock has subsequently withdrawn.

Michael Gove placed third in the rankings behind Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.

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