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Labour apologises to Brokenshire family

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James Brokenshire

James Brokenshire

James Brokenshire

The Labour Party has been forced to apologise to the family of former Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, after asking for his vote in the by-election triggered by his death.

Mr Brokenshire passed away in October after a battle with lung cancer.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party sent a ‘Vote Labour’ appeal to Mr Brokenshire ahead of the by-election for the Conservative MP’s former Old Bexley and Sidcup seat on December 2.

Labour campaigners addressed an ‘election communication’ to Mr Brokenshire at the 53-year-old’s family home in the constituency.

Mr Brokenshire served as Secretary of State here from July 2016 to January 2018.

He had resigned as security minister in July after telling Prime Minister Boris Johnson that his recovery from lung cancer surgery in February was taking “longer than expected”.

According to The Mail on Sunday, the heavily Labour branded letter, which included a large photograph of candidate Daniel Francis, caused deep upset to Mr Brokenshire’s widow Cathy.

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In a statement, Sir Keir’s party said the election communication was the standard free post mailing that parties receive at election time, which is then sent to all registered electors in the local area.

“We sincerely apologise for any distress caused to the Brokenshire family,” Labour added.

Tory MP Sir David Evennett described the posting of the leaflet as “so insensitive”.

One Labour MP told the newspaper there was “no way” the “dreadful” error should have occurred.

Labour is hoping to overturn a Conservative majority of 19,000 in the by-election.

Following Mr Brokenshire’s death, tributes poured in from politicians across the spectrum.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he was “one of the genuinely nicest people” in politics, while Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard described him as “always very civil, courteous and professional”.

In 2018 Mr Brokenshire had surgery to remove the upper lobe of his right lung, but his lung cancer later returned and progressed.

He died on Thursday, October 7.

Mrs Brokenshire has since said she wants to help others avoid a similar fate, pledging her support to a campaign led by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, called Spot the Difference.

She added that she was “starting to contemplate life” without her husband by her side.

“But I’m not alone. Every year, over 35,000 people die of lung cancer — that’s 95 others on the same day as James,” said Mrs Brokenshire.

“Most people are diagnosed when it’s too late.

"James was desperate to change this, and now it falls to me to help make it happen.

"If we can prevent even one family from going through what we are currently going through, then it will make our loss slightly more bearable.”


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