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“Say nothing but good of the dead” is honoured in the breach as well as the observance.  But not in the case of James Brokenshire, MP for Old Bexley & Sidcup, whose death was announced earlier today.

Twitter has converged on: nice, decent, kind, loyal, conscientious – and devoted to his wife, Kathy, and their three children.  The messages come from across the political spectrum, and their frequency and sadness tell you much that you need to know.

Lung cancer forced him from his Cabinet post in Northern Ireland Secretary in 2018, but he was soon back as Housing Secretary, leaving the Government after Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

However, Johnson drew on his Home Office experience – Brokenshire had been a long-serving Minister in the department under Theresa May – to re-invent him as Security Minister in 2020, in order to help steady the ship.

However, his deteriorating condition forced him out of office again earlier this year, and he died yesterday at Darent Valley Hospital.  A statement from his family thanks the NHS staff who cared for him with “warmth, diligence and professionalism”.

It describes him as “a dedicated constituency MP…but most importantly, he was a loving father to his three children, a devoted husband to Cathy and a faithful friend to so many”. He was 53, and first entered Parliament in 2005.

This article is a brief tribute rather than a fuller obituary, and must end by nothing that his majority at the last election was 18,592.  He won 29,786 votes, Labour 10,834 and the Liberal Democrats 3,822.  ConservativeHome sends its commiserations to his wife and family.