Theresa Villiers replaces Owen Paterson as Northern Ireland Secretary

Theresa Villiers replaces Owen Paterson as Northern Ireland Secretary in the cabinet reshuffle. With law degrees from Bristol and Oxford, the self-confessed workaholic worked as a barrister and lecturer before being elected as an MEP for London in 1999. Six years later in 2005 she swapping Brussels for Westminster when elected as MP for Chipping Barnet.

As a result of a legal challenge, which the government intends to defend robustly, we have not yet signed the contract with First West Coast, and consequently the competition remains live.

In recent weeks as Minister of State for Transport she has been embroiled in the West Coast Main Line rail franchise debate – she describes franchise decisions as “her baby” – and between legal challenge and promotion, Theresa Villiers won’t get to sign the contract after all. Her shift from Transport – along with Transport Secretary Justine Greening whose constituency lies under the Heathrow flightpath – may allow the government’s aviation policy to shift, particularly around where to build runways and capacity in the South East of England.

She’s on record [Ed – quoted in Wikipedia!] as questioning the power of Europe.

The (European) Constitution is designed to create a country called Europe and give ever more power to Brussels at the expense of nationally elected governments. I think that’s bad for democracy, bad for Britain and bad for Europe.

In her new role she’ll get to balance centrist Westminster with the devolved NI Assembly and Executive.

Villiers spent 18 months as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, so her enthusiasm for the long–running Corporation Tax debate will be interesting.

A Total Politics interview published in February 2012 notes that she “was disappointed” when appointed as minister of state for transport (a ministerial rather than cabinet position).

No matter how enthusiastic one is, no matter how much of a workaholic, the volume of stuff to get through, correspondence and decisions, is pretty massive. I enjoy the job, and am happy to devote pretty much all my working waking hours to it, but it’s certainly demanding, there’s no doubt about that.

With substantial policy areas now devolved, will she be bored with NI? Her agenda over the coming months will include the NIO consultation on devolution reforms kicked off by Paterson, and deciding on how to move the parading debate forwards.

It seems to me that resilience and sticking power is a key quality in politics. You never know what’s coming round the corner. It’s very important to be resilient, to stick in the job and do whatever job you’re given absolutely to the best of your abilities.

Northern Ireland will test that resolve!

In the meantime while the old Secretary of State cleans out his flat at Hillsborough (and starts reading briefing papers for his new job as Environment Secretary) and the incoming one books a flight to make her first visit as SoS, what will you remember about Owen Paterson’s time in Northern Ireland?


  • Glad 2 C the back of Owen (who) Patterson, infamous for Interning Marion Price & Martin Coery amongst others. Roll on the day when these useless British Government Ministers aren’t sent here to control the natives…

  • dwatch

    ArdEoin Republican, “Roll on the day when these useless British Government Ministers aren’t sent here to control the natives…”

    Republicans should not have signed the GFA in 1998 if they did not wish a British Government Minister installed as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in Hillsborough Co Down.

  • Greenflag

    Normally I don’t have much sympathy for Tories but in this case I’ll make an exception . Poor woman . The poisonous chalice is passed on once again .They come and go and they go and come and one wonders will it ever make a jot of difference to the ungrateful and obsequios natives -probably not in this universe anyway.

  • On the precise question of how will I remember Owen Patterson, the answer is that his name might turn up as the answer in a Pub Quiz in ten years time…so probably useful to remember his name.
    But he has made little or no impact. And has moved on and will retain his safe seat (presuming no changes) in the next election.
    Indeed if the Tories lose a lot of seats, he could well be a very senior person.
    Villiers? Not exactly inspiring.

  • otto

    Ungrateful and obsequios?

    Servile and surly?

    Are we both at the same time or are some of us one and some the other?

    I’ve only been to Hillsborough once in the last few years and I met Danny Kennedy. Didn’t see any sign of Owen. How much time do they even spend here?

  • andnowwhat


    Oh fek!

  • My memory of Owen is that of tour guide.

  • [contd]There is a Villiers link to Dunluce Castle – of sorts:

    In 1635 the 2nd Earl, also Randal, married Catherine Manners, widow of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. The Earl built the Manor House, with its bay windows, for her and a new kitchen court on the rock. Despite this, the Duchess never liked Dunluce and when part of the kitchen court fell into the sea, during a storm in 1639, she insisted that the family abandon the castle and build a house inland.

    Perhaps I’ll get to meet Theresa when she ‘drops in’ 🙂

  • andnowwhat

    Yep Nevin. I just read her wiki. Posh or what?

  • BluesJazz

    She was only picked as window dressing to up the numbers of women in the cabinet. I was hoping for Louise Mensch, still, could have been worse, Nadine Dorries.

  • Nice one, an alumnus of the “Welsh College” overseeing the noisy neighbours across the water.

    Fellow alumni include TE Lawrence, Harold Wilson and Magnus Magnusson. The answer to the Irish Question should be in there somewhere among all that wisdom.

  • salgado

    articles – I’m also an alumnus of there. Interestingly, it does house the university’s Celtic Languages library – though I doubt she had much interest in Irish while she was there.

  • Villiersgate – but can she bring us a shared sense of community?

  • tacapall

    “Putting the Community First”

    Hopefully thats exactly what she does Nevin but like all problems here its the defining of “community” that will be her problem.

  • jthree

    In that Total Politics interview she also described herself as ‘a workaholic’. That could be problem given that she now has a non-job. Maybe she could do an Open University degree or something to help put the week in?

  • GoldenFleece

    I actually liked Owen Patterson, I always got the feeling he actually gave a damn about Northern Ireland, unlike other SoS’s cough…Woodward

  • dwatch; I don’t agree with the GFA as it has further entrenched secterianism, cemented Partition and restored the Micro-Parliament at Stormont.

    BYW, throughout the British occcupation of Ireland British Ministers have kept the natives in check and ensured Imperialist Rule continues unempedied chara.

  • The NI Conservatives have put out a press release with their list of Paterson’s contributions to NI:

    I would also like to pay tribute to the work Owen Paterson has done over the past two years in tirelessly representing the cause of Northern Ireland in the Cabinet. His work on behalf of Northern Ireland is well known including PMS, air passenger duty, Bangor coast guard, Corporation Tax, additional funding for the PSNI and many other areas.

    They also “welcome Theresa to Northern Ireland and look forward to working closely with her to help improve Northern Ireland for the benefit of all” and are “sure Theresa will carry on this work over the coming years and we will always be available to help when required”.

  • Greenflag

    @ otto ,

    ‘Are we both at the same time or are some of us one and some the other?’

    It doesn’t matter not to those from outside the corral .Cows , bulls and calves but cattle one and all 😉

  • Greenflag

    Is a workaholic the same as a multi tasker but just gets less done in more time ?

  • Greenflag

    @ ArdEoin Republican ,

    ‘I don’t agree with the GFA as it has further entrenched secterianism, cemented Partition and restored the Micro-Parliament at Stormont.’

    Well true but it has also prevented both communities from killing /murdering / eating each other etc by the thousand s – although whether thats an argument in favour of the GFA or against I’ll have to ponder and reconsider ;(

  • antamadan

    Wiki had this on the front page of Villiers’ page earlier today, but maybe it’s now gone

    ‘Now is a crucial time for the talks and it is important that everyone who is a friend of Cyprus makes their support clear in the push for a just, lasting and balanced settlement in Cyprus which will see the whole island united again with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship.’

  • Mister_Joe


    Saw a programme on multi-tasking a couple of days ago. People renowned in their social/work circles as superb multi-taskers were tested. The results showed them to be no better than 87% of the population. Simply put, they were fooling themselves as well as others. It’s just impossible to do two things simultaneously because of the design of the brain. They are just switching attention rapidly from one task to another and not doing either task particularly well.

  • Greenflag

    Right Joe ,

    I’ve never bought into the multi tasking hype . When anybody tells me they are great multitaskers I immediately conclude that nothing will be done right and that errors will ensue . That said I’ll be the first to admit that the ladies are far more adept at doing several things at once as compared to the gents .But it’s probably due to the rigors of motherhood than anything else.

    That said lets hope that the indigenes behave a bit better now that they have Therese Villiers as boss 😉

  • The Irish News is straight in there on p3 noting Therese Villiers’ ancestral links to the Famine and the Plantation and bringing topicality to the story by crudely cross referencing to the famine song played outside St Pat’s.

    The IN also notes the respective standpoints of the party leaders.

    Robinson wanting talks asap;
    Nesbitt wanting her to emulate Patterson for committment and enthusiasm;
    Adams wanting a Bill of Rights and the release of Marian Price and Martin Corey;
    McDonnell wanting to work with her on economic issues.

    From the above It is possible, even now, to accurately determine what our leaders want for Christmas.

    Robinson: a yellow Dublin conversation bench
    Nesbitt: a labrador puppy
    Adams: to meet Father Christmas
    McDonnell:forget the present, forget the card just give us the money

  • Nevin @ 1:20 pm:

    Only just caught up with this one. And I’m upset. Very, very upset. Cause? —

    In 1635 the 2nd Earl, also Randal, married Catherine Manners, widow of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.

    Here comes the shock and awe (from the DNB):

    James took it for granted that his favourites would marry, and encouraged Buckingham to ask for the hand of Lady Katherine Manners [see MacDonnell, Katherine, duchess of Buckingham (1603?–1649)], whose father, the earl of Rutland, ruled the roost in the part of the world where Buckingham had grown up. Katherine was an heiress, which no doubt carried weight with Buckingham, but was far from being a beauty. She was also a Roman Catholic, like her convert father. James would not hear of his favourite marrying a Catholic, and instructed one of his chaplains, John Williams, to persuade Katherine to give up her faith. After a long struggle Katherine did so, and it was Williams who carried out the private marriage service at Lumley House, near Tower Hill, on 16 May 1620. Katherine brought with her a dowry of £10,000 as well as lands worth some £5000 a year, but the marriage was not merely one of convenience. Buckingham loved his wife, and as for Katherine, she told him in 1623 that ‘never woman was so happy as I am, for never was there so kind a husband as you are’ (Goodman, 2.309–14). They had four children. First, in March 1622, came Mary [see Villiers, Mary, duchess of Lennox and Richmond (1622–1685)], named after Buckingham’s mother. Next, in November 1625, was a son, baptized Charles in honour of the new king, but he died before he was two years old. A second son, George Villiers (1628–1687), was born in January 1628 and in due course succeeded his father as duke of Buckingham. A third son, Francis (1629–1648), who inherited his father’s striking good looks, was born in April 1629, by which time Buckingham was dead, but he was killed in July 1648 while fighting for the king in the civil war.

    Gulp, swallow, choke — for here in the “Redfellow” genealogy is an earlier Katherine Manners (1537-1572), daughter of Sir Thomas Manners, Earl of Rutland (1488-1543) and Eleanor Paston.

    There goes yet another shred
    Of my proletarian street cred.

    [Hmm: the scansion needs some work.]

    [Actually, the above is just a way of subscribing to an interesting thread.]

  • [Actually, the above is just a way of subscribing to an interesting thread.]

    Heh, and at that exact moment it stops being interesting… 😉