Statement

It has been an enormous privilege to serve as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and represent this special nation and integral part of our precious union. 

I would like to pay tribute to Theresa May for her continued support and commitment to ensuring the unique needs of Northern Ireland were met and respected in full.

I would also like to thank the whole team at the Northern Ireland Office who work tirelessly to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.

Special thanks to Minister Penrose and Lord Duncan who have put in many hours at the dispatch box while I have been in Belfast for the current talks process.

Together I am extremely proud of our achievements over the past 18 months.

I personally regret that I will not conclude the current talks process but I am honoured to have led the process over the past 12 weeks.

The political parties in Northern Ireland have made important progress and shown a new determination to overcome their differences and reach an agreement.

I now pass this tremendous responsibility over to my successor with every best wish and my full support to conclude the process.

I am also immensely proud at securing two City Deals for Belfast and Derry/Londonderry with £455m of new UK government investment for Northern Ireland.

This includes the creation of a new Inclusive Future Fund in Derry. 

After the appalling and tragic murder of Lyra McKee on Good Friday I personally wanted to put in place a Fund to create new opportunities for young people and recognise the unique challenges facing the region. 

I was also delighted to secure £300m of Government funding for shared integrated education, which will help thousands of pupils from all backgrounds.

Together with £320m from the budget 2018 for NHS funding and schools capital, and a £10m Northern Ireland veterans fund, this is nearly £800 million in total to help build a more prosperous Northern Ireland that works for everyone, irrespective of their background.

Now more than ever it is so important that we come together and focus on a peaceful future in Northern Ireland and continue to build on the tremendous progress made since the 1998 Belfast Agreement. 

The Belfast Agreement is not just the bedrock of stability in Northern Ireland but its principles are fundamental to the security and success of the whole of the United Kingdom.

I am also pleased to have launched and concluded the consultation on addressing the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland. It certainly wasn’t the easy option but I felt strongly that the people of Northern Ireland deserved to have their voice heard and represented.

The legacy of the Troubles still casts a large shadow over many aspects of society and I have been humbled by the strength and dignity of the survivors. I would also like to salute the tremendous heroism and courage displayed by the armed forces and the police in upholding the democracy and the rule of law. We know that without them the peace process in Northern Ireland would never have happened and we will always remember the debt of gratitude we owe them.

It has also been a privilege to serve as the Secretary of State at DCMS and Minister of State at the Home Office.

Working closely with Theresa May it was a momentous achievement to deliver the Modern Slavery Act. I am also extremely proud to have worked on a raft of changes to end female genital mutilation and introduce the new coercive or controlling behaviour offence to provide better protection to victims.

At DCMS it was a personal priority to repeal section 40 of the Crime and Courts Art to ensure a free and independent press and bring in new legislation to protect young people from online harms, as well as make the UK a world-leading digital economy.

I look forward to campaigning from the backbenches on the issues close to my heart and working hard on behalf of my constituents in Staffordshire Moorlands.

I wish the new Prime Minister the very best and I look forward to seeing him lead with energy and determination, focused on the best interests of our country.