ALLIES of former Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith called his sacking ‘disastrous’ and a ‘WTF’ moment.
The dismissal of the former chief whip came after he delivered a power-sharing deal that saw the region’s assembly restored after three years of deadlock.
No.10 reportedly felt left out over the terms of the deal Mr Smith was negotiating last month and there were said to be concerns in Tory circles that the agreement includes an investigation into alleged crimes by British soldiers during the Troubles.
Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hailed Mr Smith as ‘one of Britain’s finest politicians of our time’.
He said: ‘In eight months as secretary of state, Julian you helped to restore powersharing in Stormont, secured an agreement with us to avoid a hard border, plus marriage equality.’
Northern Ireland’s first minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster praised the outgoing secretary of state for his ‘incredible’ dedication.
Those close to Mr Smith insisted that Downing Street and Boris Johnson had been kept fully informed about the terms of the Stormont arrangement.
‘There was a write-round of cabinet ministers,’ a source said, adding Mr Smith personally briefed the prime minister on January 6.
There had been a series of memos sent back and forth between Mr Smith’s team and No.10 and it was ‘absolute crap’ to suggest they had been blindsided.