Lewis pays tribute to predecessor as a ‘good friend’

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.”

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.