Brandon Lewis has paid tribute to his predecessor as a “good friend”.
Julian Smith was sacked as Northern Ireland secretary during Thursday’s Cabinet reshuffle.
Mr Lewis recognised: “The great work that was done by my brilliant predecessor, he is a good friend of mine, but also all of the parties who came together to make sure we saw the Executive back up and running.”
He added: “I am very fortunate to be coming in as Secretary of State on the back of someone who did a great job and actually delivered, as I say, that agreement for the New Decade, New Approach.”
Serving the people of Northern Ireland has been the biggest privilege. I am extremely grateful to @BorisJohnson for giving me the chance to serve this amazing part of our country. The warmth & support from people across NI has been incredible. Thank you so much.
— Julian Smith MP (@JulianSmithUK) February 13, 2020
His predecessor was only appointed in July and held the post for 204 days.
Mr Lewis added: “Julian has been a superb Secretary of State. I have got the tough boots to fill, the exciting job of delivering on that agreement, taking us forward to actually make sure that we are able to capitalise on those opportunities and I know Julian will be there with all the advice that I need and I look forward to working with people, all the parties.”
He said he wanted to get the economy “buzzing” and hoped to remain Northern Ireland Secretary for a considerable period of time.