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Brexit abuse prompts former Bishop's Stortford schoolgirl Dame Caroline Spelman to stand down

Former Herts and Essex High School student Dame Caroline Spelman has announced she plans to stand down as an MP at the next General Election – blaming Brexit abuse.

The 61-year-old Conservative member for Meriden in the West Midlands, who was born in Bishop's Stortford, has battled to prevent the UK leaving the European Union without a deal.

In a tweet, the former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "I am retiring as an MP at the next General Election. It has been a privilege to serve the constituency over the last 22 years, but the time has come for a new person to represent the interests of Meriden in a new Parliament which will be dominated by the consequences of Brexit."

Rt Hon Caroline Spelman. (16321607)
Rt Hon Caroline Spelman. (16321607)

The married mother of three told the BBC the "intensity of abuse arising out of Brexit" had convinced her that stepping down from the seat she has held since 1997 was the right decision.

She came into the Brexit spotlight earlier this year when she moved a cross-party amendment to show there was no majority in Parliament for quitting the EU on October 31 with no deal.

She said: "Myself, my family and my staff have borne an enormous brunt of abuse and I think quite frankly we've had enough.

"The anonymity the internet affords allows people to say things which if they said it to your face or they wrote it down, would not be legal."

She said a General Election was needed to "clear the air".

"The question is when, and I think Boris should have the chance and have the time to get a deal," she said.

"My constituency voted Leave and I am respectful of that. But I believe it is very much in their interests that we leave with a deal in an orderly fashion."

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