New NI Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris to visit Northern Ireland today

New NI Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris to visit Northern Ireland today

NEWLY APPOINTED Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris is set to make his first official visit to Northern Ireland later.

He is expected to meet the DUP and Sinn Féin but it is unclear whether or not he will meet with other Stormont parties during his trip.

At his first NI Questions yesterday, Mr Heaton-Harris said the best way forward was to have a functioning executive.

The 54-year-old was appointed to the cabinet on Tuesday evening - replacing Shailesh Vara who is Northern Ireland's shortest serving secretary of state with only 62 days in post.

Ms Truss told the Commons the Northern Ireland Executive must return - and at the end of next month the new secretary of state will have to decide what to do if this does not happen.

If Stormont has not returned by 28 October, a 12-week period will be triggered during which he will have to call a fresh assembly election, unless the government instead chooses to push back the deadline.

During his first Northern Ireland Question Time on Wednesday, the Daventry representative said that in his view "Northern Ireland needs a stable, fully-functioning devolved government to deliver on the issues that matter to people most".

Meanwhile, Liz Truss has been accused of sending a “destructive message” to the EU by handing arch-Brexiteer Steve Baker a ministerial role in the Northern Ireland Office.

The decision was branded “obnoxious” and a “red flag” by SDLP MP Claire Hanna, as she claimed Ms Truss appeared to be “continuing down the diplomatically ignorant route of her predecessor”.

Mr Baker, who organised the Brexiteer revolt that ultimately brought down Theresa May, has described the Northern Ireland Protocol as “a thorn in the side of relations between us and Ireland”.