Rachael Maskell has resigned from the Shadow Cabinet to follow her heart – and the lead of most of her constituents – and vote against Brexit.
The MP for York Central defied the three-line whip imposed by her Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and voted no to triggering Article 50.
This is the clause which will begin the process of Britain leaving the European Union. She was one of 33 Labour rebels, but MPs voted in favour of the bill by 498 votes to 114 – a majority of 384.
Although the country voted for Brexit, York voted to stay in the EU.
Ms Maskell said: “York has over a 1,000 year history of being a centre of trade in Europe, and its economy through its two universities, manufacturers and tourism base still very much relying on Single Market membership and free trade arrangements.
“The UK is no longer being offered a ‘people’s Brexit’ but a ‘Theresa May Brexit’, which goes far beyond just leaving the European Union, as voted on at the referendum last June.”
‘Racism and hate crime’
She has taken soundings from many constituents, “read over 1,000 pieces of correspondence just this weekend” and organised two packed public meetings before coming to her decision.
The MP and former shadow environment secretary said:
Most worrying of all is the rapidly changing social context which is leading to a rise of racism and hate crime in the UK.
These are the very things that I have campaigned on all my life and believe are central to Labour’s values.
Ms Maskell also has serious concerns about the impact of the Prime Minister’s plan to take the UK out of the Single Market and Customs Union on the agricultural sector.
She was first promoted to the Shadow Cabinet in June 2016 when Mr Corbyn appointed her shadow environment food and rural affairs secretary.