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Senior U.K. Conservative to Quit Parliament Over Brexit Fears

Kitty Donaldson and Alex Morales

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Former U.K. Conservative Party chairman Caroline Spelman will quit Parliament at the next election citing concerns about jobs for her constituents if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.

Also standing down at the next election will be former Defense Secretary Michael Fallon.

Spelman, 61, who joined the Tories as an 18-year-old and has been an MP for 22 years, is the latest in a string of high-profile Tories to leave the party or be expelled after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered them not to vote against a no-deal Brexit.

“In my constituency there is a large council estate and all the single mums there owe their jobs to the car factory,” Spelman told Bloomberg. “I can’t be pro no-deal when I’ve seen the predictions about what will happen to jobs, I can’t ignore it.”

Spelman voted against the government Wednesday after meeting Chief Whip Mark Spencer who “graciously allowed me to vote with my conscience” in favor of legislation forcing an extension to the Brexit deadline.

Spelman denied she’d been asked to step down by the party, adding that her constituents need a fresh candidate for the next election whenever that comes. She declined to criticize Johnson’s handling of party discipline.

Read more: Brexit Rips Conservative Party Apart as Johnson Expels 21 Rebels

After Spelman leaves the House of Commons, she is keen to carry on her work with the head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. He is is overseeing a reconciliation commission to heal nationwide divisions over Brexit.

Fallon, 67 and the MP for Sevenoaks in southeast England since 1997. The Conservative stalwart previously served as an MP for Darlington from 1983 to 1992. Unlike Spelman, he didn’t rebel on this week’s votes to avert a no-deal Brexit. Fallon posted a statement on his website late on Wednesday to confirm the decision.

(Updates with Fallon to stand down starting in second paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net;Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Robert Jameson

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