Britain’s Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire resigned from his post on Monday due to ill-health, nearly a year to the day since the collapse of the once-troubled province’s semi-autonomous government.
Brokenshire resigned in a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May saying he needed surgery, on the same day the premier plans a wider reshuffle of her cabinet.
“I have a small lesion in my right lung which needs to be removed. Clearly, my long term health and my family are my priorities and I intend to proceed with surgery at the earliest opportunity,” he wrote.
Brokenshire, 50, has hosted repeated unsuccessful negotiations between republicans Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party to form a power-sharing executive in British-ruled Northern Ireland.
Following the breakdown of talks, the province is on the brink of direct rule by civil servants in London who have already been managing its budget.
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The prime minister backed Brokenshire’s decision to step down at “an important moment for politics in Northern Ireland”, thanking him for his efforts with a letter in which she urged the parties to re-establish the power-sharing government.