PM Boris Johnson leads tributes to former NI Secretary James Brokenshire following his death
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is “desperately sad” to hear the news that James Brokenshire has died.
The former NI Secretary had been battling cancer and his condition deteriorated recently, his family said in a statement.
The 53-year-old was appointed Secretary of State for NI in July 2016, but stood down due to his health condition in January 2018.
At the time, he revealed that surgery was required on a “small lesion” on his lung.
Last month, the Old Bexley and Sidcup MP said that his cancer had “progressed” and that he was undergoing further treatment.
In a message on Twitter, Mr Johnson said: “He served with particular distinction in the Home Office and as Security Minister. If the government needed something done well and speedily – and sensibly explained – James was the man to do it.
“I worked with him for many years in London and I know how much he cared for the interests of his Bexley constituents.
“His fight against cancer was heroic, and it is a measure of his resolve that he came back from a first bout with the disease to serve in government again. He will be missed by all who knew him. Our thoughts are with Cathy and his family.”
In a statement posted online on Friday, Mr Brokenshire’s family said: “James was not only a brilliant Government minister as both Security and Immigration Minister at the Home Office and Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office and Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government, but a dedicated constituency MP, first for Hornchurch from 2005 to 2010, and then for Old Bexley & Sidcup for the past 11 years.
“But most importantly, he was a loving father to his three children, a devoted husband to Cathy and a faithful friend to so many.”
The statement added: “We would like to thank all the NHS staff, particularly those at Guy’s & St Thomas’ in London, who cared for James with such warmth, diligence and professionalism over the past three-and-a-half years.”
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has also praised Mr Brokenshire as “one of the genuinely nicest people” in politics.
Sir Jeffrey tweeted: “This is desperately sad news. James was one of the genuinely nicest people I have worked with in politics.
“He often spoke warmly of his time in Northern Ireland as Secretary of State.
“My thoughts & prayers are with his dear wife Cathy & his colleagues in the Conservative Party.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, tweeted: “So sorry to hear of the death of James Brokenshire, whose courage and faith were an inspiration to so many, myself included.
“Our prayers and deepest condolences are with his family, friends, colleagues and all who knew and loved him.”
Also on Twitter, former first minister, Arlene Foster, said: “I am so shocked and saddened by James’ death – one of the good guys in politics who handled his diagnosis with such grace.
“I am of course sending my love and prayers to Cathy and their children as well as all his colleagues and friends.”
Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill posted: “Sad news. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of James Brokenshire.”