Who is Brandon Lewis? Why Northern Ireland secretary resigned from Tory cabinet - what did he say to PM?

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Brandon Lewis said he was submitting his resignation with "regret" but said a divided Conservative party cannot win elections

Brandon Lewis has quit his Cabinet post as Northern Ireland Secretary, telling the Prime Minister the government requires “honesty, integrity and mutual respect” and it is “now past the point of no return”.

His resignation on Thursday (7 J uly) morning came hours after former Johnson ally Suella Braverman, the Attorney General, also publicly urged the Prime Minister to go.

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Mr Lewis’ departure was soon followed by a string of other ministers as the number of MPs quitting government and party posts since Tuesday evening topped 50.

In 1998, Mr Lewis was first elected as a representative of the Conservative Party when he became a Borough Councillor for Hutton South.In 1998, Mr Lewis was first elected as a representative of the Conservative Party when he became a Borough Councillor for Hutton South.
In 1998, Mr Lewis was first elected as a representative of the Conservative Party when he became a Borough Councillor for Hutton South. | Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

Who is Brandon Lewis? 

Mr Lewis was first elected as a representative of the Conservative Party in 199 when he became a Borough Councillor for Hutton South.

In this role, he was re-elected in 2002 and 2006, and he remained in that position until 2009 when he resigned to focus on seeking election to become an MP.

He was elected MP for Great Yarmouth in 2010, preceding the office of Tony Wright, and served on the Work and Pensions Select Committee and the Regulatory Reform Select Committee from his election until 2012.

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Two years later, Mr Lewis was appointed as parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Communities and Local Government, working under Eric Pickles.

In July 2014, he was promoted to minister of state for Housing and Planning.

Following the Grenfell disaster, Mr Lewis was criticised for having rejected calls to increase fire safety regulations in his former role, which he left in 2016.

In 2016, he became minister of state for Policing and the Fire Service for a year, before becoming minister of state for Immigration.

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Two years later he became the minister without portfolio, and a year on, in 2019, he became minister of state for security deputy for exiting the European Union and No Deal preparation.

In 2020, Mr Lewis became secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis yesterday urged Boris Johnson to go, having backed him from Belfast earlier in the day. Above, Mr Lewis in happier times when he was chairman of the Conservative Party with Mr Johnson after the latter became Tory leader and prime minister, in July 2019The Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis yesterday urged Boris Johnson to go, having backed him from Belfast earlier in the day. Above, Mr Lewis in happier times when he was chairman of the Conservative Party with Mr Johnson after the latter became Tory leader and prime minister, in July 2019
The Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis yesterday urged Boris Johnson to go, having backed him from Belfast earlier in the day. Above, Mr Lewis in happier times when he was chairman of the Conservative Party with Mr Johnson after the latter became Tory leader and prime minister, in July 2019

Why did Brandon Lewis resign? 

Mr Lewis resigned from his post as he “cannot sacrifice my personal integrity to defend things as they stand now”.

He published his resignation after Mr Johnon vowed to “fight on”, despite a delegation of Cabinet ministers pleading with him to step down from No 10 last night.

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Mr Lewis told the PM, who has now resigned from his post, that he “it is clear that our Party, parliamentary colleagues, volunteers and the whole country, deserve better.”

Hi full resignation letter reads: “It is with regret that I submit my resignation from the government. It has been an incredible honour to serve in Government over the last ten years under three Prime Ministers, most recently as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

“Through the challenges of the last two and a half years, we have taken important steps to secure the future peace and prosperity of Northern Ireland. I am pleased to have guaranteed the greatest funding settlement for Northern Ireland since devolution in 1998.

“The legacy of the Troubles is one of the most complex and sensitive policy issues we have faced, one that successive governments have struggled to address, so I am immensely proud that we have persevered and brought in the Northern Ireland (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.

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“We have taken huge strides to level up the economy of Northern Ireland and have not shied away from taking other difficult decisions; confronting the practical issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, advocating for the reproductive rights of women and championing the benefits of integrated education for all.

“A decision to leave government is never taken lightly, particularly at such a critical time for Northern Ireland. I have taken a lot of time to consider this decision, having outlined my position to you at length last night.

“I have served loyally in your Cabinet and you have achieved much during your time as the leader of our Party and as Prime Minister.

“I have given you, and those around you, the benefit of the doubt. I have gone out and defended this government both publicly and privately. We are, however, now past the point of no return. I cannot sacrifice my personal integrity to defend things as they stand now. It is clear that our Party, parliamentary colleagues, volunteers and the whole country, deserve better.

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“I delivered my first campaign leaflet as a teenager and the Conservative Party has been hugely influential in my life ever since. In recent weeks and months, we have been relentlessly on the defensive, consumed by introspection and in-fighting. A divided Party cannot win elections. It cannot deliver for those who trusted us with their votes for the first time in 2019.

“A decent and responsible government relies on honesty, integrity and mutual respect – it is a matter of profound personal regret for me that I must leave government as I no longer believe those values are being upheld.”

Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

What is Brandon Lewis’ background? 

Mr Lewis, 51, was born in London and received a degree in economics from the University of Buckingham, an LLB in law from the same university and an LLM in commercial law from King’s College London.

He was a directer and a provider of private primary schools, Woodlands School limited, until 2012.

In 1999, he married his wife Justine Rappolt, and together the couple have two children.

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