Secretary of state Chris Heaton-Harris makes first official trip to Northern Ireland

Chris Heaton-Harris took on the role of secretary of state on Tuesday Credit: House of Commons

Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris has said he's looking forward to meeting all political parties in Northern Ireland in the coming days.

The Conservative MP who took on the role earlier this week made the comments before a meeting with Sinn Féin in Co Tyrone on Thursday morning.

He said: "I am looking forward to delivering enough pressure so we can get an executive up and running, solve the problems of the protocol and some of the more useful domestic things I can do to help the people here in their everyday lives."

This is the MP for Daventry's first official visit in his new post.

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.

During his first Northern Ireland Question Time on Wednesday, Mr Heaton-Harris said that in his view "Northern Ireland needs a stable, fully-functioning devolved government to deliver on the issues that matter to people most".Political stalemate has been continuing at Stormont since the Assembly election in May.

The DUP has refused to nominate a speaker or re-enter the power-sharing executive until its concerns over the Northern Ireland Protocol - a Brexit trade agreement made between the UK and EU - are resolved.

The new secretary of state told MPs in the House of Commons that he would prefer a negotiated settlement with the EU, but that the UK government remained committed to progressing the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.

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”.