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Prime Minister pays tribute to dedicated minister, Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire, who has died

Former government minister and father-of-three James Brokenshire has died aged 53, his family have said.

The Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup had been fighting lung cancer since January 2018.

First elected to parliament in 2005, Mr Brokenshire rose to become a respected minister in the Cameron, May and Johnson governments.

His death will automatically trigger a by-election in the constituency, where he had a majority of 18,952. The Conservatives have held this area, including previous constituency Sidcup, for 71 years.

Mr Brokenshire served as Northern Ireland secretary and a Home Office and housing minister.

He was told after his initial cancer diagnosis that he was clear of the disease and returned to the government, serving as housing secretary until he was dismissed in a reshuffle by Boris Johnson when he came to power in July 2019.

By February 2020 he was once again back in government but resigned from his ministerial post when his cancer returned.

In August, Mr Brokenshire confirmed he was starting a new line of treatment, also at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital.

The prime minister tweeted: “Desperately sad to hear the news about James Brokenshire. 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. If the government needed something done well and speedily – and sensibly explained – James was the man to do it.”

Mr Johnson called his fight against cancer “heroic” and described his return to government after his first bout of illness as a “measure of his resolve”.

Former prime minister David Cameron said he was “devastated” while his successor Theresa May described him as an “outstanding public servant, a talented minister and a loyal friend”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “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.”

A statement from his family read: “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 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.

“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.”

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