Karen Bradley gets PM’s vote of confidence after voicing ignorance about NI

Secretary of State Karen Bradley
Secretary of State Karen Bradley

The Prime Minister has insisted the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley has been “doing an excellent job”.

Theresa May said that “what matters is the job that Karen has been doing” following an admission from Mrs Bradley that she had difficulty understanding certain aspects of Northern Ireland.

In an interview with The House magazine in Westminster earlier this month, Karen Bradley had said: “I didn’t understand things like when elections are fought, for example, in Northern Ireland – people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice versa. So, the parties fight for election within their own community.”

She added: “I freely admit that when I started this job, I didn’t understand some of the deep-seated and deep-rooted issues that there are in Northern Ireland.”

Despite her admission, Theresa May gave Mrs Bradley a vote of confidence in an interview with the BBC on Thursday night.

“Of course I am disappointed that we still don’t have the Executive up and running and the Assembly running as it should be. But every effort is being made to do this,” Mrs May told the broadcaster.

“Karen is also obviously taking on board the need to ensure decisions will be able to be made by the civil service in NI while there is no executive in place.”

The comments came as Mrs Bradley gave a keynote speech to the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington DC, where she stressed the UK government’s “wholehearted belief” in devolution.

“We want to see local politicians taking local decisions fully accountable to a local Assembly,” she told her American audience. The Secretary of State also highlighted the importance of trade links between Northern Ireland and the United States.