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Julie Kirkbride confirms she is stepping down at the next election

Julie Kirkbride interview Julie Kirkbride has cancelled her trip to Bromsgrove today to meet with constituents and is now reportedly "considering standing down" according to the BBC. Paul Waugh is expecting an exchange of letters between David Cameron and the Bromsgrove MP before too long. William Hill installed her this morning at 50-1 to hold her seat at the next election, the longest odds ever for an incumbent MP.

1.10pm update:

Confirmation comes that Julie Kirkbride will be standing down at the next election. She is understood to have come to her decision after speaking to her family this morning; David Cameron had a "warm" conversation with her and accepted her decision.

1.30pm update: Miss Kirkbride wrote in her resignation letter to David Cameron:

"Today I am announcing that I will not seek re-election for my Bromsgrove constituency. My principal concern has to be for my very loyal local supporters in Bromsgrove whose trust in me has been very humbling in the last few weeks.

I also want to see the Conservative party have a great result in next week's elections, which will lead to a real change at the general election and you as our prime minister. I also must take into account the effects on my family.

I truly understand people's anger about MPs' expenses, but I have been subject to a barrage of distorted press stories which I have sought to rebut.

As you said yesterday, I gave a good account of myself. But the fact that I am still defending myself and my family two weeks after Andrew stepped down as your adviser has now become an unbearable pressure.

Today, stories were published and broadcast which stated that I had built a bedroom at taxpayers' expense for my brother. The truth is that I did so with the approval of the fees office for whoever was caring for my son.

This pressure on my loyal party workers and me has to end. I would like to thank all those who have stood by me from the bottom of my heart. I realise they will feel let down by my decision and I bitterly regret that.

I have had the happiest and most fulfilling 12 years of my life in Bromsgrove. I shall miss them all terribly."

1.40pm update: David Cameron replied as follows:

"Thank you for being so frank and candid about your decision to stand down at the coming election. I know this was a very hard decision for you to take, but I completely understand why you have decided to do so.

You have been under enormous pressure in the last two weeks. Sometimes the focus of the public spotlight can be unbearably intense, as you described graphically to me on the phone this morning. I understand that the pressure has now become more than you can bear.

You have struggled hard to balance your roles of mother and Member of Parliament, and spoken eloquently of how difficult it is to combine the two. As you said to me this morning, your first instinct must now be to protect the wellbeing of your family - especially of your son.

In terms of your own case, you have given full answers to the questions that have been put to you, and you have given a good account of yourself.

You step down in the knowledge that you have been an incredibly hardworking and committed Member of Parliament, and that your achievements cannot be taken away from you. You have always fought for the people of Bromsgrove with great spirit, and I know that very many of them are extremely grateful for the work you have done for them for the last 12 years.

Don't let this cast a shadow over your achievements. You should be extremely proud of what you have done - including as shadow culture secretary, and on the select committee for business and enterprise. Since your student days you've been a valiant fighter for the Conservative party. Though today must seem a very dark day, I know that you have so much to offer in the future.

The public are rightly angry at what has happened over MPs' expenses. If we are to rebuild trust in politics, it is essential that there is thorough and urgent reform. But it is also extremely important that part of that reform should include better ways of enabling women to combine the roles of politician and mother.

I hope that you and Andrew will, in the coming months, be able to start the process of rebuilding your lives."

Jonathan Isaby


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