James Brokenshire becomes the third DHCLG Secretary of State in as many years, reflecting a turbulence only beaten by the turnover of Housing Ministers the department has also witnessed.
A lawyer by background, he became an MP in 2005 and a minister in the Home Office in 2010 where he gained a reputation as an effective member of the then Home Secretary’s ministerial team. Here he forged a constructive working relationship with Theresa May and served alongside her, throughout her tenure as Home Secretary.
Following David Cameron’s resignation as Prime Minister, Brokenshire was promoted to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when Theresa May became Prime Minister. Rumoured to be the under study for Boris Johnson, should he have to walk the plank out of King Charles St, James himself resigned as Secretary of State at the beginning of 2018 for treatment for lung cancer. The operation was a success and he was back in Parliament in just five weeks.
Regarded as a significant loss to Government, his promotion back into the Cabinet was just a matter of time given his successful operation and treatment.
Whilst not noted for showing interest in local government, he is not totally ignorant of the subject, having previously alluded to his childhood where his father, a council chief executive, often discussed his work with his son.
The greatest strength he brings to his new position is his closeness to the Prime Minister who is increasingly determined to be seen delivering on the thorny issue of housing. Given the question of the Prime Minister’s remaining shelf life, one has to wonder how long he’ll be in post though.
This article was written by Frank Browne, Consultant Director at MPC.