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Brokenshire quits as minister to focus on lung cancer recovery

James Brokenshire quits as Security Minister to concentrate on ‘longer than anticipated’ recovery from lung cancer

  • Old Bexley and Sidcup MP had surgery in January 2018 to remove part of a lung
  • Ex-Cabinet minister underwent a fresh round of treatment in January this year
  • Today he quit as security minister, telling PM he wanted to focus on his health

James Brokenshire resigned as security minister today, telling Boris Johnson that his recovery from lung cancer treatment is ‘taking longer than anticipated’.

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 today, telling Boris Johnson that he wanted to focus on his health.

In a letter to the Prime Minister the married father of three thanked him for his support, adding: ‘My recovery from treatment and return to full duties is, however, taking longer than anticipated. 

‘Given my responsibilities to the public, the Government and to Parliament, I have therefore concluded that it is best that I stand down from my ministerial role and focus on restoring my health.’

The former cabinet minister underwent a fresh round of treatment in January, three years after surgery to remove part of one lung.

In a letter to the Prime Minister the married father of three thanked him for his support, adding: ‘My recovery from treatment and return to full duties is, however, taking longer than anticipated.

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

He said he hopes to be able to ‘serve again in some way in the future’, and Mr Johnson responded by offering his full support and to wish a ‘speedy return to full health’.

The Prime Minister added: ‘I understand entirely your need to step down from your role but look forward to welcoming you back as soon as possible.’

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds was quick to wish Mr Brokenshire a ‘full and swift recovery’.

‘I know it will be difficult for him to stand back from his duties, but I look forward to seeing him again soon,’ the Labour MP tweeted.

Mr Brokenshire has been a minister under three consecutive prime ministers.

He was Northern Ireland secretary under Theresa May before stepping down in January 2018 – on his 50th birthday-  after his cancer diagnosis. 

The non-smoker had been in the job for barely 14 months when his world turned upside down. 

Doctors told him he had lung cancer – which kills more people in the UK than prostate, breast and pancreatic cancer combined. 

He told the Mail at the time how he had been on a family day out at Hillsborough Castle, Ulster, when he first coughed up blood. ‘It came as a complete shock,’ he said.

‘I didn’t know what to think. Your heart starts pounding and you get a knot at the core of your stomach.’ 

A fitness fanatic, he ran regularly on a treadmill in his living room and hadn’t been feeling unwell. 

After surgery he returned to the Cabinet as communities secretary later that year, but was axed by Mr Johnson when he became Prime Minister in July 2019.

He was brought back for a second term as security minister in February last year after Brandon Lewis was promoted to Northern Ireland Secretary.  

But he was forced to undergo surgery again in January after a relapse in the same lung. 

At the time he said he was ‘in good hands’ with the NHS team looking after him and was ‘keeping positive’. 

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