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NI Secretary Brokenshire resigns from Cabinet

NI Secretary Brokenshire resigns from Cabinet

"In the circumstances and recognising the additional pressures and requirements as Secretary of State, with much regret, I believe that the right thing at this time is for me to stand down from my Ministerial responsibilities".

May 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.

However, a source close to the 50-year-old minister said he had chose to stand down because he was facing major surgery within the next couple of weeks.

He announced his resignation before a planned cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Theresa May.

She was selected for Staffordshire Moorlands in July 2006 and was returned to Parliament at the general election in 2010. Bradley made little impression at first, either on the arts world or on the other parts of her brief covering "digital, culture, media and sport".

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The most senior members of the UK Government - Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Brexit Secretary David Davis - are all expected to remain in their present posts.

Meanwhile, Brandon Lewis was promoted to Chairman of the Conservative Party, replacing Sir Patrick McLoughlin, a veteran Tory minister who served in Margaret Thatcher's government.

Downing Street sources sought to play down the reports, describing them as "speculation" and "guesswork".

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been seen a favourite for the job but the Prime Minister may find it hard to move him in the midst of an NHS winter crisis which has seen tens of thousands of operations cancelled.

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said yesterday: "If she promotes this Health Secretary tomorrow it's a betrayal of those 75,000 people in the back of ambulances".