The head of British government in the north of Ireland, James Brokenshire, has quit the Tory cabinet ahead of a major reshuffle by Prime Minister Theresa May.
The British government confirmed the resignation but gave no further details officially. However, it was claimed the 50-year-old minister decided to stand down because he is facing a surgical procedure on his right lung.
It is Britain’s first major reshuffle since Ms May took office. Up to six ministers are expected to be sacked -- but the MP from Kent in southeast England was not among ministers who were predicted to go.
Brokenshire’s spell at the head of Britain’s ‘Northern Ireland Office’ was marked by dismal failure, even by the standard of his office, and he became known chiefly for his robotic delivery of NIO holding statements.
During his period in the job, he presided over the collapse of the devolved institutions and the effective return of full Direct Rule. In particular, his decision to impose himself as the hopelessly compromised chair of talks between Sinn Fein and unionists, despite his party critically depending on the DUP for a majority at Westminster, fatally undermined negotiations.
His stance on Brexit was implacably in support of May, his former boss at the Home Office, and failed to take into account his brief in the north of Ireland. In addition, his decision to continue a Tory policy of selective internment of former republican political prisoners caused him to become a hate figure for hardline republican groups, but won favour with with the DUP.
His replacement could abandon these policies and lay the groundwork for a new impetus to restore the Stormont Assembly in Belfast. However, any new Direct Ruler sent by May while under the malign influence of the DUP, and is likely be seen to be tainted. His replacement is likely to be revealed later today.