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Dublin: 16 °C Tuesday 18 June, 2019

Theresa Villiers resigns as Northern Ireland Secretary

Earlier, Michael Gove was dropped from Theresa May’s Cabinet.

Updated at 12.45am 

Theresa May becomes PM Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

THERESA VILLIERS HAS resigned as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, having turned down a role offered to her by Theresa May.

The MP for Chipping Barnet said in a statement on her Facebook page that she regrets to say she has left the government, adding:

 The new Prime Minister was kind enough to offer me a role but it was not one which I felt I could take on.
Northern Ireland and its people will always have a very special place in my heart and I am confident that progress will continue to be made to embed peace, stability and prosperity there.

Her full statement is below:

Earlier today, Michael Gove, minister in David Cameron’s cabinet and a leading Brexit campaigner, has been dropped from government by Theresa May, the BBC reports.

The new UK prime minister is finishing the process of appointing her cabinet today, as she faces into her first full day in the role.

May rang the changes as she appointed her first ministers last night.

Her announcements included the surprise nomination of Brexit campaign figurehead Boris Johnson as foreign secretary. Other Leave campaigners were also appointed to senior roles.

Gove, who successfully led the Vote Leave campaign alongside Johnson, later withdrew his support from the former London mayor in the campaign to take over as Conservative leader. Gove then launched his own bid to become PM, which faltered in the early stages.

Healing divisions 

May took over from David Cameron yesterday and moved quickly to heal divisions in the Conservative Party caused by the Brexit vote.

However, the appointment of Johnson – who described himself as “very excited” – drew a mixed reaction.

Choosing the eccentric former London mayor to represent the UK around the world got Britain’s newspapers animated.

While Eurosceptic tabloids rejoiced, the Daily Mirror said the kingdom’s credibility was left “hanging by a thread” by making the “gaffe-prone” Johnson Britain’s top diplomat.

Clean break

Theresa May becomes PM Source: Hannah McKay

In an apparent attempt at a clean break, May ditched finance minister George Osborne, Cameron’s closest ally.

She appointed former foreign secretary Philip Hammond to the Treasury job instead. Speaking to Sky News this morning, Hammond said that Britain “is open for business” – but appeared to indicate that the UK would leave the European single market, a move that would rule out an EEA-like agreement with Brussels.

May promoted energy secretary Amber Rudd to home secretary and created new roles filled by prominent Brexiteers.

David Davis and Liam Fox were appointed respectively as Brexit negotiator and international trade minister, two new posts which reflect changed priorities in the wake of the referendum.

May took phone calls from other government leaders including Enda Kenny yesterday, while Angela Merkel inviting her to visit Germany.

She is set to name new ministers in charge of areas like health, education and business today.

With reporting from Daragh Brophy and AFP. 

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