Jan. 8 (UPI) — Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire resigned due to ill health on Monday.

The 50-year-old Conservative told British Prime Minister Theresa May of his resignation in a letter, calling it a “huge privilege” to have served in government.

“Despite the challenges and the huge frustrations felt as a result of the lack of devolved government Northern Ireland has so much potential and we can be positive as to what can be achieved in the years ahead,” Brokenshire said.

In a letter to Brokenshire, May said she was sorry to hear about the medical complication and commended the secretary on “what a good job” he would have done.

“I very much look forward to working alongside you again when you are back to full health,” May wrote.

Brokenshire has a small lesion on his right lung and will have surgery in the coming weeks. He is expected to recover for several weeks after.

“This is clearly a difficult time for not only James but for Cathy, his wife and his children. I send my best wishes to him and the entire Brokenshire family. I trust James will have the surgery he needs and will make a full recovery,” Arlene Foster, the Democratic Unionist Party Leader, said.

“James leaves the role with a very intimate knowledge of Northern Ireland and I look forward to working with him again in the future.”

Brokenshire tweeted appreciation for “all of the kinds messages” he’s received since his announcement.

“Really appreciate all of the kind messages,” Brokenshire said. “Standing down will allow me to focus completely on my family, my health and recovering from surgery speedily so that I can get back to frontline politics as early as I can. Not quite how I thought I’d mark my 50th birthday!”

Brokenshire took the role of secretary of state in July 2016, a few weeks after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. He formerly served as immigration minister under former Prime Minister David Cameron.

His successor has yet to be announced.

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