Northern Ireland

Former health minister Sajid Javid earmarked to be next secretary of state

Former health secretary Sajid Javid has been tipped as the next secretary of state
Former health secretary Sajid Javid has been tipped as the next secretary of state

FORMER British health secretary Sajid Javid is earmarked to be the next Northern Ireland secretary of state when bookies' favourite Liz Truss becomes prime minister, according to reports.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith and Secretary of State for Wales Robert Buckland have also been linked to the role, which has been held by Shailesh Vara since July.

Previously, there has also been speculation that Belfast-born Northern Ireland Minister of State Conor Burns could be promoted when Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street later this week.

The weekend social media posts by Sunday Times chief political commentator Tim Shipman that linked Mr Javid to the Stormont House role also suggested that previous Tory leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt had turned down the job.

Seen as one of the less prestigious cabinet posts, the Northern Ireland secretary of state's role is normally reserved for ambitious politicians, who are loyal to the party leadership.

The next occupant of Stormont House will be the sixth Tory secretary of state in as many years.

"Sajid Javid seems likely to be offered Northern Ireland, where a steady pair of hands is needed, but several sources also tip him to stand down at the next election and return to banking," Shipman tweeted.

"I've now been told that the other job Mordaunt was offered and rejected (in addition to chairman) was Northern Ireland."

The Sunday Times journalist also reported that civil servants have been asked to make arrangements for Ms Truss to make an "early visit to Dublin, to see the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, to come to an understanding on the future of the Northern Ireland protocol".

"Her team believes there is a window before Leo Varadkar returns as leader in December (agreed as part of a Dublin power-sharing deal)," he reported.

"That would delay Truss from taking immediate unilateral action to use article 16 of the protocol to suspend onerous border checks.

“It might work, but if you want to do something outrageous later you need to show that you’ve at least tried to have a conversation about it first.” In Dublin, there remains grave scepticism about Truss. “Triggering article 16? That’s like a mad woman running into the street with a gun,” an Irish government source told the paper.