Brokenshire resigns as Northern Ireland Secretary

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire

"Clearly, my long term health and my family are my priorities and I intend to proceed with surgery at the earliest opportunity".

He cited health reasons in his resignation letter as he revealed he was preparing to undergo an operation for a lesion on his lung.

His decision to quit will be seen as a major blow for Prime Minister Theresa May as she embarked on a much trumpeted reshuffle of her team of ministers.

While his resignation comes as a surprise, John Manley Irish News political reporter says he will be remembered for his blandness during a period of political instability.

When James Brokenshire came to Northern Ireland as Secretary of State 18 months ago devolution was functioning and the two main parties were praising their joint efforts in government. It seemed rather odd at the time but they didn't have a great deal to say.

It is thought her most senior ministers - including Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Brexit Secretary David Davis - will remain in their current posts.

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Why did James Brokenshire resign from the Cabinet?

He was then elected in May 2010 for Old Bexley and Sidcup.

"But just because he has the personality of a motorway services auto park doesn't automatically make him a bad secretary of state - it's his record in office that does that".

However, a source close to the 50-year-old minister said he had chose to stand down because he was facing major surgery within the next couple of weeks.

"It's perhaps unfair to lay the entire blame for an inconclusive, lacklustre talks process at the secretary of state's door but he certainly can't escape unscathed".

Mr Coveney phoned Mr Brokenshire while on a visit to Cairo to wish him well. "I trust James will have the surgery he needs and will make a full recovery", Arlene Foster, the Democratic Unionist Party Leader, said.

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"A key part of my role will be to help build a Northern Ireland that is fit for the future and works for everyone", she said.

Mr Brokenshire said he had hoped to lead the "essential work with renewed intent" before his diagnosis.

He said his decision to step down was the right thing to do. "I've always had a very good working relationship with him", he said. I respected his honesty and how he played with a straight bat.

"It has been a huge honour and privilege to be able to serve as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland".

"We are now well into overtime to re-establish an executive if further intervention in the day to day affairs of Northern Ireland is to be avoided".

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