Northern Irish Unionist politician and prime minister 1943–63. He was born in Colebrook, County Fermanagh, and educated at Winchester and Sandhurst. A conservative unionist and staunch advocate of strong links with Britain, he entered the Northern Ireland House of Commons in 1929 and held ministerial posts 1933–45. His regime, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, saw moderate improvements in economic prosperity and community relations but maintained an illiberal stance towards Northern Ireland's Catholic minority, and made no real attempt at significant political or economic reform.
Brooke served in the Hussars during World War I, winning the Military Cross. He resigned his commission in 1920 to run his large estates in Fermanagh; he became viscount in 1952. He was elected to the Northern Ireland senate in 1921 but resigned to play a leading role in the establishment of the Ulster Special Constabulary. Elected Unionist MP for County Fermanagh in 1929, he was appointed minister of agriculture 1933–41, and minister of commerce and production 1941–45. Following the death of Lord Craigavon in 1940, and the failure of his successor John Andrews (1871–1956), Brooke emerged as prime minister in 1943.
His views on Northern Ireland's Catholics were notoriously bigoted. He advocated discrimination in private as well as public employment, stating that ‘he had not a Roman Catholic about his own place,’ and in 1959 supported the section of the Unionist Council which rejected the notion of allowing Catholics to join the Unionist Party. Following increasing political discontent led by the Northern Ireland Labour Party and dissension within his own party about rising unemployment and the poor state of the economy, Brookeborough resigned at the age of 75 on 23 March 1963. He retired from politics in 1968.
Brookeborough, Basil Stanlake Brooke