I had the enormous privilege of working with James Brokenshire in government, first for six years in the Home Office and then in his roles as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and as Communities Secretary. James was a remarkable man, an outstanding Minister, a great constituency Member of Parliament and a true friend.
Words have been used by others such as “diligent” and “hard-working,” and he was both of those. As a Minister, he was assiduous in dealing with the briefs he read, thoughtful in his consideration of the issues and careful in his decision making, which is what you want from a Government Minister. He gave his time and effort because he understood the importance of the decisions he was making. He cared about people and he cared about the work he was doing, and that came through in all the decisions he made and in the way in which he reached out across this House to ensure those decisions were the right ones.
James was an outstanding Minister, but he was also a very good constituency MP. Very often if you try to contact a Minister on a Friday, they are in their office. More often than not, James was in his constituency. He understood that all of us are here because our constituents have placed us here, and anybody who is fortunate enough to become a Government Minister is only there because their constituents have placed them there. We should never forget that that is the basis of our being here and of our responsibilities.
James was a true friend. If, from what I and others have said, you get the impression that he was just a hard-working workaholic, I can say that James was great fun. Evenings with Cathy and James were evenings of fun and laughter. He was also a loving family man. I remember when he was first diagnosed with his lung cancer and he was stepping down from the Government. His first thought to me was about the impact it would have on Cathy and the family. He was a loving family man, he was out there in his constituency and he gave dedicated public service to this country.
The Government are the poorer for his loss, this Parliament is the poorer for his loss and our country is the poorer for his loss.