Theresa May’s former chief of staff, James Brokenshire, has been joined by a number of other prominent figures at the funeral of Phillip Blond.
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Senior politicians, family members, and friends came to grieve and commemorate James Brokenshire, a former Cabinet minister and Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup.
On Thursday, a large police presence was seen downtown Bexley and around St John the Evangelist Church, where the service was held.
During the full church’s prayers, fellow Tory MP Sir David Amess – who was murdered during a constituency surgery in Essex only a week after his colleague – and his family were also recalled.
Reverend Scott Lamb characterized Mr Brokenshire as “unassuming” and “the most decent of guys.”
More than three years ago, James Brokenshire was diagnosed with lung cancer (Photo: NurPhoto via Getty Images). )
Chancellor Rishi Sunak attends James Brokenshire’s funeral. (Photo courtesy of PA)
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, also went to St John the Evangelist Church in Bexley. (Photo courtesy of PA)
Following the funeral, former Prime Minister Theresa May (left) talks with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick. (Photo courtesy of PA)
Former Prime Minister Theresa May, in whose cabinet Mr Brokenshire served for two years, delivered a Bible reading from Mark’s Gospel, and Rev Lamb quoted the text, saying Mr Brokenshire “came not to be served but to serve.”
Mr Brokenshire entered politics ‘not out of ambition, but because he wanted to make a difference,’ according to Rev Lamb, who noted that he was conducting constituency work only two days before his death from lung cancer on October 7 at the age of 53.
‘As a local MP, no issue was too minor, and no plaintiff was too humble,’ he added.
Mr Brokenshire’s election as MP for the constituency sealed the destiny of Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, according to Rev Lamb.
‘The transaction was done, the hospital was shuttered, and the property was sold for houses,’ he added.
But Mr Brokenshire intervened, and Rev Lamb stated, “Because of James’ vision, there are hospital services on that location now.”
Mrs May read from the Bible (Picture: PA)
‘The irony was not lost on James that he got the cancer care services that he had battled to deliver to local people, and he did so in the building where he had turned the first earth, passing a plaque with his name on it every day,’ he said.
Mr Brokenshire’s father, Peter, worked in local government, and his mother, Joan, would drive him to local Conservative fundraisers, according to Rev Lamb.
‘He joined the Young Conservatives in his teens and began campaigning, and, well, he simply never stopped,’ he told the audience.
Mr Brokenshire’s widow, Cathy, handed her husband a sketch of the House of Commons on their wedding day in 1999, Rev Lamb said, adding that she told him, “I believe you will be there.”
Mr Brokenshire was first elected to the Hornchurch constituency in 2005, and subsequently to the Old Bexley and Sidcup constituency in 2010.
He was supposed to see Mrs May for a visit in 2002 while still a candidate, but the birth of his first child, Sophie, forced him to cancel on his future employer.
Jemma, his second daughter, was born on the day the general election was called in 2005.
His son, Ben, was born in 2006 when the family was on vacation in Cornwall, starting a Conservative Party tradition, according to Rev Lamb.
Many of those who worked with Mr Brokenshire had become close friends, according to Rev Lamb.
‘People were more than that to James,’ he added.
On October 7, James Brokenshire died at the age of 53. (Picture: Getty)
Sophie, now 18, also delivered a reading, saying that although Mr Brokenshire was a colleague, an MP, and a friend to many, he was just ‘Dad’ to her.
‘Perhaps you can sum up a person by the small moments,’ she told the audience.
And she recounted how she was often informed that Mr Brokenshire was on a conference call or that he had just discussed the situation in Afghanistan.
She said that there is only ‘one thing we can do now – continue what he began,’ and that she, like her father, will try to be a’very good person.’
Senior officials such as Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Home Secretary Priti Patel, and Health Secretary Sajid Javid attended Mr Brokenshire’s burial.
Former Cabinet ministers Julian Smith, Chris Grayling, and David Davis were also there, as was House of Commons deputy speaker Dame Eleanor Laing, minister Chloe Smith, Tory noble Baroness Morgan, and father of the House of Commons Peter Bottomley.
After his funeral, James Brokenshire’s coffin is brought out the church. (Photo courtesy of PA)
Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, former Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster, and Conservative MPs Tom Tugendhat and James Cleverly were among those who attended.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Simple Minds’ Don’t You (Forget About Me) was played.
Mr Brokenshire, according to Rev Lamb, has raised more money for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation than anybody else save Roy Castle himself.
Since the MP’s death, the charity has been inundated with questions regarding lung cancer, according to the organization.
Anyone interested in sharing memories or contributing to the charity may go to https://jamesbrokenshire.muchloved.com/, according to the Brokenshire family.
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- laura kuenssberg bbc news