Theresa May ‘has positive history with NI’ - Foster

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has wished Theresa May every success, adding that the new Tory leader has “a positive history” of working with the Stormont administration.

Mrs May is set to become the new Prime Minister on Wednesday, following on from David Cameron.

It comes after fellow Conservative hopeful Andrea Leadsom withdrew from the leadership race.

DUP leader Arlene Foster paid tribute to Mr Cameron as he prepares to leave office, particularly “for the role he played in Northern Ireland on issues from the devolution of Corporation Tax to assisting with PMS savers and of course his role in the political process”.

Speaking about his successor, she added: “Theresa May has a positive history of working with the Northern Ireland administration across a range of Justice issues, including the NCA becoming fully operational in Northern Ireland.

“The withdrawal of Andrea Leadsom means our new Prime Minister will be in place within a much shorter time frame than previously thought which helps reduce some of the political uncertainty.”

Mrs Foster further added: “I welcome the fact that Mrs May has indicated that the UK will exit the European Union in keeping with the result of the referendum.

“It is important that she can commence work on planning the UK exit and the new arrangements to be negotiated.”

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has already had discussions with Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin about Northern Ireland’s place during the Brexit negotiations.

The First Minister says she is looking forward to “early discussions” with the new Prime Minister.

“We will be emphasising the unique circumstances that Northern Ireland faces and the need for regional administrations to work in partnership with the national government to bring about tailored solutions,” Mrs Foster said.

However, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood noted on Twitter that those who had led the Leave campaign had now largely departed the scene - calling into question the way forward.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has welcomed the early resolution of the Tory leadership contest and offered his best wishes to Theresa May.

“The UK needs certainty and this is the first small step on the road so that we are not facing a summer of disquiet. We need strong coherent government with an effective opposition,” he said.

Mr Nesbitt added: “Theresa May visited Northern Ireland a couple of days before the referendum when I had the pleasure of introducing her to a prominent player in the agri-food business, who left her in no doubt of the many challenges the local economy would face if the UK voted to leave the EU.

“It is vitally important that she hears Northern Ireland’s voice loud and clear and that means bringing an end to the period of drift which seems to have engulfed the Northern Ireland Executive."