Theresa May praises 'excellent' Karen Bradley after Northern Ireland knowledge gaffe
Theresa May has insisted her Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley is doing an "excellent job", after the minister admitted to having a limited knowledge of the country when she took up post.
Mrs Bradley told The House magazine earlier this month that she had been "slightly scared" of Northern Ireland before taking on the job, and admitted she had been unaware that voters in the province split along constitutional lines.
She 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."
But the Prime Minister told the BBC that the Northern Ireland Secretary had been "doing an excellent job", as she heaped praise on the Cabinet minister's efforts to restore the country's devolved government.
Mrs May said "what matters is the job that Karen has been doing", and talked up her ally's role in trying to break the ongoing deadlock at Stormont.
"Of course I am disappointed that we still don't have the Executive up and running and the Assembly running as it should be," she said.
"But every effort is being made to do this."
The PM added: "Karen is also obviously taking on board the need to ensure decisions will be able to be made by the civil service in Northern Ireland while there is no Executive in place."
Ms Bradley announced earlier this month that Stormont assembly members are to have their pay slashed while the body is out of action.
MLAs will have their salaries cut from £49,500 to £35,888 and then by a further £6,187, while they fail to perform the “full range of their legislative functions”, she said.