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Brokenshire resigns from Cabinet for medical reasons

13 January 2018

The new secretary of state, Karen Bradley, previously the culture secretary and with little apparent expertise or interest in Northern Ireland, takes up her post a year to the day since Martin McGuinness resigned as deputy first...

Mr Brokenshire today revealed that he has a "small lesion" in his right lung which needs to be surgically removed.

In a statement she said: "My immediate challenge and key objective is to ensure that Northern Ireland has a devolved government in place in order to address the issues that affect everyone's lives, including health, education and the economy".

During his time in the office, the MP for Hornchurch in Essex, was faced with the collapse of the Northern Irish Assembly over the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal.

"We wish to express our thanks for the work Mr Brokenshire undertook in often very challenging circumstances".

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"We have made it clear to the Secretary of State that if Sinn Fein continues to block the restoration of devolution then a return to Direct Rule is an unfortunate, but inevitable outcome and the Government must move to appoint ministers". I have very much enjoyed the role and been moved by the spirit, determination and kindness of so many people.

"Rather than looking for reasons not to restore the Executive the parties should focus on why this matters now more than ever".

In attempting to prevent Northern Ireland erupting as a major crisis for a prime minister toiling on Brexit, Mr Brokenshire set "deadline" after "deadline" for the DUP and Sinn Fein to re-enter power-sharing; as each passed, he simply announced a new date until the point that he gave up on setting any deadline.

"I want to find a way through this because the absolute priority is to restore devolved government as soon as possible", she said.

But although Brexit has been a major issue during his tenure, it was the collapse of the longest unbroken period of devolution in Belfast since 1972 which has defined politics over the previous year.

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The British and Irish Governments had been expected to kickstart another bid to restore devolution after several rounds of talks a year ago failed to produce a deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

"While it is not always obvious to the public gaze, very important progress has been made on significant issues over the previous year and I believe that a positive outcome can still be achieved".

"In the six months since my appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I have worked closely with James and I have come to value and appreciate his professionalism and his friendship".

Warm tributes have been paid to Mr Brokenshire, with both political allies and opponents sending him best wishes as he deals with his health issues.

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Brokenshire resigns from Cabinet for medical reasons