Boris and Carrie Johnson today led tributes to Britain’s ‘nicest’ MP James Brokenshire who died aged 53 after a ‘heroic’ four-year battle with lung cancer leaving behind his heartbroken wife and three children.
Mr Brokenshire, who was a Conservative minister for housing, security and Northern Ireland under David Cameron and Theresa May until he was sacked by Mr Johnson in 2019, passed away surrounded by family at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford last night, close to his Old Bexley and Sidcup constituency.
He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017 despite having never smoked, and would ultimately have his right lung removed earlier this year after another relapse. In August he posted a heartbreaking tweet saying his ‘cancer had progressed’, along with a photo of him with his wife Cathy. He died yesterday, after he was rushed to hospital on Sunday.
Boris Johnson said today that he was ‘desperately sad to hear the news’, as ministers and MPs from all sides gave tributes including Labour’s Chris Bryant who tweeted: ‘Cancer is a b***ard’.
‘James was the nicest, kindest and most unassuming of politicians but also extraordinarily effective. He served with particular distinction in the Home Office and as Security Minister’, Boris Johnson said.
‘If the government needed something done well and speedily – and sensibly explained – James was the man to do it.
‘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.’
His wife Carrie, who was before the Tory director of communications, tweeted: ‘Thoughts with Cathy, his children and all his family and friends. Such a decent man. Incredibly sad’.
In his last tweet, Mr Brokenshire shared a picture of himself on a walk with his ‘amazing’ wife Cathy, and said that his lung cancer had ‘progressed’
Boris and Carrie Johnson today led tributes to Britain’s ‘nicest’ MP James Brokenshire who died aged 53 after a ‘heroic’ four-year battle with lung cancer
After surgery in 2018 he returned to the Cabinet as communities secretary later that year, but was axed by Mr Johnson when he became chief Minister in July 2019
The Old Bexley and Sidcup MP, a non-smoker, stood down as security minister in July to focus on his health after a recurrence of his illness.
But in a statement today his family announced that he had died last night in hospital with his family by his side after a sudden decline in his condition.
In a statement, James Brokenshire’s family said: ‘James died peacefully at Darent Valley Hospital yesterday evening with family members by his bedside. He had been in hospital since Sunday after his condition rapidly deteriorated.
‘James was not only a bright 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.
‘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.
‘We would also ask that our privacy as a family is respected at this time.’
Mr Brokenshire held several Government locaiongs during his career, including as Secretary of State for Housing, and for Northern Ireland.
Mr Brokenshire, pictured with wife Cathy, was Northern Ireland secretary under Theresa May before stepping down in January 2018 – on his 50th birthday- after his cancer diagnosis
The news prompted an outpouring of tributes from across the political spectrum, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak saying he was ‘a man of public service and the highest integrity’.
‘He was a valued friend and colleague and will be deeply missed. My thoughts are with his family on this incredibly sad day,’ he tweeted.
Labour leader Keir Starmer additional: ‘James Brokenshire was a thoroughly decent man, dedicated and effective in all briefs he held.
‘He fought his illness with dignity and bravery. I’m incredibly sad to learn of his death and send my condolences to his wife and children.’
He was forced to undergo surgery and take leave again in January this year after a relapse in the same lung
Labour’s Chris Bryant additional: ‘I always found him to be charming, committed and utterly specialized.
‘My deepest condolences to all his family, friends and colleagues. Cancer is a b***ard.’
The former Cabinet minister underwent a fresh round of treatment in January, three years after surgery to remove part of one lung.
But the Old Bexley and Sidcup MP, 53, stepped down as a minister in the summer, telling Boris Johnson that he wanted to focus on his health. Her announced thwe following month that his cancer had spread.
His passing will set up a by-election in his south east London seat, which he held with a majority of more than 8,000 in 2019.
Click: See details