By Geraldine Scott, PA Political Correspondent
Former Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, who had been suffering from lung cancer, has died aged 53.
Mr Brokenshire, a Conservative MP in England, died on Thursday evening with his family at his bedside, and had been in hospital since Sunday.
In August, Mr Brokenshire confirmed his lung cancer had “progressed” and he was starting a new line of treatment.
A family statement said his condition had rapidly deteriorated.
A statement on behalf of the Brokenshire family on the death of James Brokenshire MP pic.twitter.com/sKknyCQ1Ow
— James Brokenshire (@JBrokenshire) October 8, 2021
The statement said: “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.”
James Brokenshire was quite simply the nicest man in politics. A true gentlemen.
We will all miss him hugely. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) October 8, 2021
Mr Brokenshire resigned as Britain's security minister in July after telling Boris Johnson that his recovery from lung cancer surgery in February was taking “longer than expected”.
When his cancer progressed, he said he was “keeping upbeat” over his condition but “needed space to focus on treatment”.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin offered his condolences to Mr Brokenshire's family, issuing a statement which read: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire.
"He was a dedicated politician and public servant, whose sincerity and commitment always shone through, specifically in the context of his work in Northern Ireland.
"He brought integrity, energy and commitment as Secretary of State, and was a constructive partner for the Irish Government throughout. My sincere condolences to his wife Cathy, children and whole family."
Meanwhile, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: “I just want to extend my condolences to [James Brokenshire's] colleagues, family and friends. He was somebody I met on many occasions, and worked with for a period of time.
“I knew he was unwell, but didn't know it was as serious as it clearly was. He was a fine man, and I'm very sorry to hear of his untimely death,” he said.
UK finance minister Rishi Sunak wrote on Twitter: “James Brokenshire was a man of public service and the highest integrity. He was a valued friend and colleague and will be deeply missed.
“My thoughts are with his family on this incredibly sad day.”
UK Labour leader Keir Starmer tweeted: “James Brokenshire was a thoroughly decent man, dedicated and effective in all briefs he held.
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.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) October 8, 2021
“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.”
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted: “Sending my deepest condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of James Brokenshire.
“He has been taken far too young, a real tragedy. James was unfailingly professional and kind and it was clear that he cared deeply about his work and public service. Rest in peace James.”