British Northern Ireland secretary Brokenshire resigns on health grounds

James Brokenshire has resigned as secretary of state

Britain's Northern Ireland minister James Brokenshire has resigned because of ill-health, his spokesman said on Monday, in the latest hitch in efforts to resolve a political crisis in the British province.

In her choice of Karen Bradley as Northern Ireland secretary, Theresa May has replaced one of her former junior ministers at the home office with another.

The 50-year-old father-of-three stepped down this morning, citing a lung condition as the reason.

Brokenshire gave notice of his resignation just as May began to overhaul her cabinet with the intention of reinvigorating her minority conservative government.

The Shadow of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Smith, said he was very sorry to hear Mr Brokenshire has left the cabinet and wished him a speedy recovery.

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He was elected at the 2005 general election to the now dissolved constituency of Hornchurch'. Bradley made little impression at first, either on the arts world or on the other parts of her brief covering "digital, culture, media and sport".

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.

It is unclear, however, whether she will announce a direct replacement for Damian Green who was forced to quit as her effective deputy after he admitted lying over the alleged discovery of pornographic material on his Commons computer during a police raid in 2008.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been seen a favourite for the job but the Prime Minister may find it hard to move him in the midst of an NHS winter crisis which has seen tens of thousands of operations cancelled.

Greening said: "Clearly, there are immediate challenges".

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