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UK News

Tributes to MP, James Brokenshire who's died at 53

by Donna Birrell

Tributes are being paid to the former Cabinet Minister, James Brokenshire who has died at the age of 53 after suffering lung cancer.

The Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, who attended church, passed away in hospital yesterday surrounded by his family.

The prime minister called him the "nicest, kindest and most unassuming of politicians but also extraordinarily effective".

Reverend Cathy Knight-Scott from St John the Evangelist Church within Mr Brokenshire's constituency, met him many times and tells Premier he will be a great loss to the community :

"I've only been here three years, but he was already well known to the church community when I arrived and was a great supporter of church events. A couple of years ago, James accepted the presidency of the Royal British Legion, so I also knew him in that context as well. He was a great supporter of local events and a great constituency MP and will be much missed by many. It's astonishing how many knew him. I think that's the thing that surprised me, coming from a different constituency where perhaps the local MP was not so well known locally.

"He was always very polite - charming isn't perhaps the right word, but it's certainly very close. He always came across as kind and gentle, which is something that I find quite unusual among politicians and he cared deeply about local issues. 

"A lot of people knew him and were very fond of him and he was a Christian. He did come to church and was always ready and willing to support any events that we had, whether it was an opening or remembrance. And he did so with grace and he was very good at talking with people of all ages.

"I especially remember an occasion when he spoke to all the different uniforms, group scouts, and guides and cadets, and Marines and all sorts after a remembrance service and he had found something different to say to each one of them and was able to make each one of them feel valued. I remember thinking that's a real skill."

James Brokenshire served as secretary of state for Northern Ireland and for communities and local government under Theresa May and held several junior government positions under Boris Johnson and David Cameron.

His family spoke of their deep sadness at his death :

"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 and Local Government, but a dedicated constituency MP, first for Hornchurch from 2005 to 2010, and then for Old Bexley and 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 and 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."

Rev Cathy asks that we pray for Mr Brokenshire's loved ones at this time :

"I think, pray for those in grief of which there are many and those who will miss him. Pray that God chooses someone else who will be as supportive for the community and indeed for the Royal British Legion. But most especially pray for his wife Kathy, and his sons, they are still young men. And this is a big shock to everyone. And he's safe with God, we know he's safe with God. So those left behind miss him and need God's strength and everlasting arms at this time. That would be my prayer."

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