Shaun Woodward has been named as Britain’s new Northern Secretary, replacing Peter Hain.
The former Tory previously worked as ‘Security’ Minister in the British government’s Northern Ireland Office in Belfast and will be seen as a safe bet by the new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
Born in Bristol, Woodward was educated at the elite Bristol Grammar School and the University of Cambridge.
After defecting from the Conservative Party in 1999, Woodward was rewarded with the safe Labour seat of St Helens South. He has served on the Joint Committee of Human Rights at the London parliament, and is a prominent supporter of gay rights.
Peter Hain is moving to the Department of Work and Pension but is keeping his role as Secretary of State for Wales. He had hoped to win the position of Deputy Prime Minister, but lost out to Harriet Harman.
Hain has said that in his view there will never be another Direct Rule Secretary, as existed before power-sharing was restored earlier this year.
Speaking before Brown’s cabinet reshuffle, Hain said that the role of the new Northern Secretary would be different now that there was a devolved administration.
Hain also said he believes that north/south cooperation will deepen on a practical level. “I think in a sense the constitutional question is parked,” he said.