James Peter Brokenshire MP (born 7 January 1968) is a British Conservative Party politician serving as Communities Secretary since 2018, and has served as Member of Parliament for Old Bexley and Sidcup since 2010. Brokenshire served in the Cameron Government as Minister for Security and Immigration at the Home Office, and served in the May Government as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, overseeing the Stormont deadlock.
Born in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, Brokenshire studied law at the University of Exeter before beginning work with a large international law firm. Deciding on a career in politics, he stood successfully as the Conservative candidate for the parliamentary constituency of Hornchurch in the 2005 general election. When his constituency was to be abolished in the boundary changes, he sought out another constituency to represent, failing to be selected in six constituencies until being selected for Old Bexley and Sidcup. He was elected MP for the area in 2010, on a campaign devoted to preventing the closure of accident and emergency services at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, a policy on which he was unsuccessful.
In the frontbench team of David Cameron, he was Parliamentary Under Secretary for Crime Reduction, and in May 2011 was transferred to the position of Parliamentary Under Secretary for Crime and Security. He oversaw the closure and privatisation of the Forensic Science Service and championed the Modern Slavery Bill. In February 2014, he was appointed Minister for Security and Immigration. In July 2016, under Theresa May's new cabinet, he was appointed the Northern Ireland Secretary. He stood down from this role in January 2018 on health grounds and was replaced by Karen Bradley. In April 2018, he was appointed Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government following Sajid Javid's appointment to Home Secretary as a result of Amber Rudd's resignation.
Early life and careerEdit
Brokenshire was born on 8 January 1968, in the town of Southend-on-Sea, Essex. He was educated at Davenant Foundation Grammar School in Loughton and then at the Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies. He went on to gain a degree in law at the University of Exeter.
MP for HornchurchEdit
Brokenshire was first elected at the 2005 general election to the parliamentary constituency of Hornchurch, defeating the Labour candidate and incumbent member John Cryer by 480 votes. The election itself resulted in a third successive term for Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Labour government. From 2005 to 2006, Brokenshire was a member of the House of Commons Constitutional Affairs Select Committee. From 2006 to 2010 he then served as the Shadow Minister for Crime Reduction.
Brokenshire was aware that his constituency, Hornchurch, was to be dissolved for the next election. In November 2006, he applied for selection as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Witham in Essex, but was defeated by Priti Patel. He simultaneously campaigned to be selected as Conservative candidate for the constituency of Hornchurch and Upminster, but in March 2007 was defeated there by Angela Watkinson.
He next applied for Gillingham and Rainham in July 2007, Grantham and Stamford in October 2007, North East Cambridgeshire in January 2008, and Maidstone and The Weald later that same month. He was unsuccessful in all of these attempts.
MP for Old Bexley and SidcupEdit
Derek Conway, the member for the Conservative safe seat of Old Bexley and Sidcup in southeast London, was embroiled in an expenses scandal and resigned, after which Brokenshire put his name forward as a potential replacement. His competitors for the seat were Rebecca Harris, Katie Lindsay, and Julia Manning, and he was successful in gaining the selection for the seat in June 2008. He was described as a "serial carpetbagger" by a local single issue party, Independents to Save Queen Mary's Hospital.
In the 2010 general election, Brokenshire was elected for Old Bexley and Sidcup with 24,625 votes (53.93%), beating the Labour candidate Rick Everitt, in second place with 8,768 votes (19.21%). Voter turnout was 69.13%. Upon victory, Brokenshire announced that as per his pre-election pledges, his priority would be to prevent the proposed closure of accident and emergency services at local Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup. The hospital's A&E department was closed in November of the same year.
Parliamentary Under Secretary for Crime ReductionEdit
With no party gaining an overall majority in the House of Commons, the 2010 election resulted in the formation of a coalition government consisting of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, led by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. The new PM appointed Brokenshire as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Crime Reduction in the Home Office. One of his first moves was to initiate the closing of the United Kingdom's Forensic Science Service; it had been making operational losses of £2 million a month, and was predicted to go into administration in early 2011. Brokenshire stated his desire that there would be "no continuing state interest in a forensics provider by March 2012", with the service's role being taken on by private enterprise. Critics asserted that this move would result in the loss of hundreds of jobs and the degradation of forensic research and criminal justice, with an MPs enquiry chaired by Labour MP Andrew Miller criticising the manner in which the closure had been overseen.
In August 2010, Brokenshire called for the government to adopt a new approach to the war on drugs in Britain; he argued that they should focus on getting addicts off drugs, rather than minimising the effects of drug use, as the preceding Labour government had focused on.
Parliamentary Under Secretary for Crime and SecurityEdit
In May 2011, Brokenshire's Home Office brief was changed from Crime Reduction to Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Crime and Security following the resignation of Baroness Neville-Jones, although he was not appointed to the more senior rank of Minister of State. In this position, he was responsible for updating plans to tackle terror content online. This move was seen as controversial by broadband companies and freedom of speech groups.
In the buildup to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, he stated his belief that the games would be a "great success", largely due to the government's security measures. He also commented that "I think it will bring Bexley together and the torch relay will be a fantastic event for the community ... I'm quite sure it will have a lasting impression."
In October 2013, Brokenshire published a draft of a proposed Modern Slavery Bill, designed to tackle slavery in the UK. He was quoted as saying that the Bill will "send the strongest possible message to criminals that if you are involved in this disgusting trade in human beings, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted and you will be locked up." Experts in the issue were sceptical of the Bill, believing that it had many shortcomings and was designed largely to enhance Theresa May's career. The bill was subsequently enacted as the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Minister of State for Security and ImmigrationEdit
Northern Ireland SecretaryEdit
This section contains too many or too-lengthy quotations for an encyclopedic entry. (April 2019)
In July 2016, under Theresa May's new cabinet, Brokenshire was appointed the Northern Ireland Secretary. On 16 January 2017, the Northern Ireland Executive collapsed following the resignation of Martin McGuinness as deputy First Minister one week earlier, and the refusal of Sinn Féin to nominate a successor. Brokenshire, as Northern Ireland Secretary, temporarily assumed the powers of the Executive and called for snap elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly, which took place on 2 March 2017.
Brokenshire's comments in The Sunday Telegraph of 28 January 2017 sparked consternation in Northern Ireland:
Writing in the Telegraph, James Brokenshire, the Northern Ireland Secretary, concedes there is an apparent "imbalance" that has led to a "disproportionate" focus on criminal inquiries involving former soldiers. "I am clear the current system is not working and we are in danger of seeing the past rewritten."
There is a clear intention on his part to be seen as a firmly pro-DUP Secretary of State. If he does not make some effort to be a neutral British Government representative, then he will find himself hopelessly entrapped in the mess himself. It is scarcely surprising that the collapse of Stormont happened on his watch and he cannot not regard himself as blameless in that regard. Stoking DUP paranoia and feeding the erroneous view that dealing with the past is "disproportionately focused on the police and the Army" is very foolish indeed. The actions of the Army and the RUC will necessarily be integral to the process of investigating the past. This is as unavoidable, as will be the investigation of the Provisional IRA and the loyalist paramilitary actions. Those in the Army who have allegedly committed crimes will be tried and, if found guilty, will be properly sentenced for those offences. That is called "due process" and no soldier or police officer can be immune from that, in the same way as no IRA man or UVF man can be immune from justice.
Following a question from MP Sylvia Hermon, Brokenshire offered his "clear and unequivocal" support for the Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan. Sir Declan had earlier criticised Brokenshire for refusing funding for cases and thereby adding to case backlogs when Brokenshire refused to grant £10 million to pay for an inquest into the deaths of eleven civilians shot dead by British forces in 1971 in the Ballymurphy massacre.
Brian Feeney in The Irish News accused Brokenshire of "ineptitude ... [though] no one would give him the credit of even being aware of the coincidence of the date he chose, when British soldiers killed most innocent victims in Ireland." (see Bloody Sunday), while the Belfast Telegraph editorial accused the minister of "playing a dangerous game":
The Secretary of State ... has created further controversy around an already contentious subject. It is an unusual move and by doing so, he has opened himself up to allegations that he is taking sides. He has also put at risk the impartiality with which Secretaries of State are expected to deal with Northern Ireland affairs.
Brokenshire resigned as Northern Ireland Secretary on 8 January 2018 on health grounds due to an upcoming lung operation. On 20 January it was announced that he had the operation and had been discharged from hospital.
Housing, Communities and Local Government SecretaryEdit
In April 2018, Brokenshire was appointed as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government following Sajid Javid's appointment as Home Secretary in the light of Amber Rudd's resignation after the Windrush scandal. After his appointment Brokenshire said it was "a real honour" to make a quick return to the cabinet.
Hours after taking on the new role Brokenshire appeared in Parliament and stated, after a question from Andrew Gwynne Labour's shadow communities secretary, that "local government is in my blood".
Under his watch the Tenant Fees Act was passed which, among other provisions, caps the deposit a landlord or a letting agency may impose on a new tenant.
In December 2017, Brokenshire noted blood in his cough and underwent testing that discovered that he had early stage lung cancer. He had the upper lobe of his right lung removed at Guy's Hospital and returned to Parliament five weeks later. Brokenshire said that he wanted to end the social stigma around lung cancer because, like fifteen percent of people with the disease, he has never smoked.
- "James Brokenshire appointed Northern Ireland Secretary – PM's office". Reuters. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
- "James Brokenshire: Northern Ireland Secretary resigns". BBC News. 8 January 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
- "James Brokenshire MP". BBC News. 2013. Archived from the original on 21 January 2014.
- "James Brokenshire". HuffPost. Archived from the original on 21 January 2014.
- his Who's who entry says "Solicitor with Jones Day Gouldens, 1991–2005"
- "BBC NEWS | Election 2005 | Results | Hornchurch". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
- Carlin, Brendan (22 November 2006). "Tories pick British-Asian woman in safe seat". The Telegraph.
- "Conservative Home". ConservativeHome.
- "James Brokenshire – SERIAL CARPETBAGGER". Independents to Save Queen Mary's Hospital. Archived from the original on 21 January 2014.
- "The four finalists for Old Bexley and Sidcup". ConservativeHome. 29 June 2008. Archived from the original on 21 January 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
- "James Brokenshire MP selected for Old Bexley & Sidcup". ConservativeHome. 1 July 2008. Archived from the original on 21 January 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- Piper, Linda (7 May 2010). "VOTE 2010: Brokenshire wins Old Bexley & Sidcup". Newshopper. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014.
- "Forensic Science Service to be wound up with hundreds of jobs lost". The Guardian. 14 December 2014.
- Johnson, Wesley (14 December 2010). "Forensic science service to be wound up". The Independent.
- Rincon, Paul (4 July 2011). "Forensic Science Service closure plan criticised by MPs". BBC News.
- "We need to be more ambitious in the war on drugs, says minister". The Guardian. 23 August 2010.
- Johnson, Wesley (12 May 2011). "James Brokenshire takes on security role". The Independent. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- Juliette Garside. "Ministers will order ISPs to block terrorist and extremist websites". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- "'Olympics will be a Success' says Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire". Newshopper. 19 December 2011.
- "Draft Modern Slavery Bill". UK Parliament.
- Wood, Helois (18 October 2013). "Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire announces plans to help end human trafficking". Newshopper.
- Dugan, Emily (14 December 2013). "Government's Modern Slavery Bill will 'fail victims and spare criminals'". The Independent.
- Wood, Heloise (14 January 2014). "Old Bexley and Sidcup MP calls for Network Rail to make improvements". Newshopper.
- "Details of ministerial appointments announced – News stories". Government of the United Kingdom. 8 February 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- "Elections to be held in NI on 2 March". BBC News. 16 January 2017.
- "British soldiers are being failed by Troubles inquiry, Northern Ireland Secretary concedes". The Telegraph. 28 January 2017.
- "We must not allow the past to be rewritten in Northern Ireland". The Telegraph. 28 January 2017.
- "Brokenshire must do more than go to GAA match to give victims a level playing field". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. Independent News & Media.
- "James Brokenshire offers 'clear and unequivocal' support for Lord Chief Justice". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk.
- "Sort out the funding for Troubles inquests, demands Lord Chief Justice". HeraldScotland.
- "Relatives of Ballymurphy victims cut short 'terrible' meeting". The Irish Times.
- Feeney, Brian. "Brian Feeney: Brokenshire's legacy comments are a disgrace". The Irish News.
- "Brokenshire playing a dangerous game". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk.
- "James Brokenshire undergoes lung surgery". BBC News. 20 January 2018. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
- "James Brokenshire heralds new law protecting tenants from unfair letting fees". GOV.UK. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
- Marriage – information from Who's who.
- MacFarlane, Tim (17 March 2013). "Brokenshire backs Cancer Research UK's Cell Slider website". Newshopper.
- "James Brokenshire says lung cancer diagnosis took him to 'dark places'". Sky News. 24 February 2018. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
- Official website
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 2010–present
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile on the Conservative Party website
- Guardian Unlimited Politics – Ask Aristotle: James Brokenshire MP
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament
| Member of Parliament
for Old Bexley and Sidcup
| Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
| Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government