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Former NIO minister Shailesh Vara wrongly describes Northern Ireland as 'part of Great Britain'

Shailesh Vara had quit as minister of state for Northern Ireland
Shailesh Vara had quit as minister of state for Northern Ireland

Former Northern Ireland Office minister Shailesh Vara has attracted ridicule on social media after describing Northern Ireland as "part of Great Britain".

The Tory MP, who was among several government ministers to quit last week over Theresa May's draft EU withdrawal agreement, was being interviewed by the BBC when he made the gaffe.

Mr Vara said: "It's important to remember that Northern Ireland is part of Great Britain by virtue of the principle of consent."

Twitter users were quick to point out that while Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, it is separate from the island of Great Britain - comprised of England, Scotland and Wales.

The Acts of Union at the start of the 19th century formally united the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland after partition.

Mr Vara, the Conservative MP for North West Cambridgeshire, was made a minister of state in the Northern Ireland Office earlier this year and said he was resigning over the Brexit deal because "we will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say".