Rachael Maskell: If MPs can vote and vote again on Brexit, so should the people of York – and the rest of the country

Anti-Brexit supporters at a People's Vote rally in York.
Anti-Brexit supporters at a People's Vote rally in York.
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SOME 14,824 of my constituents in York Central have signed the petition to revoke Article 50 to date. I keep watching as the numbers rise.

It is a significant number of my constituents, and my constituency voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU in 2016.​

Rachael Maskell is the Labour MP for York Central.

Rachael Maskell is the Labour MP for York Central.

It seems that we have reached a real impasse in Parliament at this juncture.

For all the political games that we are seeing played, we need something clear and pure that moves forward.

I am witnessing political fixes by the political elite for political survival, and that simply will not do.

If Brexit gets through on the margins, the country will never forgive Parliament for the economic disaster we see ahead of us.

I have met employers in my constituency to discuss the impact that Brexit will have on them.

We are also due to lose 300 jobs in one of the agencies as a result of leaving Europe.

We are in real need of high-skilled jobs in our city.

There will also be a real impact on the university, not to mention our public services and our hospital, which is 500 staff short.

The hospital recruited a cohort of 43 nurses from Spain. Only a handful remain today, because of what is happening over leaving the European Union.

It is putting my local city at risk, so I will stand up for how people in my city voted back in 2016 to ensure that we
do not end up in a disastrous Brexit 

The reality is that we are not seeing clear, cool, calm heads progressing the debate.

We saw that clearly when the Prime Minister came to the podium and started pitching MPs against the people.

We have seen it with her decisions, such as her catastrophic miscalculation last Friday. She thought that separating the political declaration from the Withdrawal Agreement would help to progress her deal, but we could all see that it would be a blind Brexit, with no leadership or certainty. People did not know what future they were voting
for or who would be leading the negotiations.

It is absolutely clear that we need to move forward in a calmer way, and that will not be achieved over the next few days.

It is clear that the country divided in 2016, but that has not yet been addressed by the Government. In fact, we have seen greater polarisation of our country with the austerity measures that have been brought forward. That has had a real impact.

When people call for a different process to be exercised, and when people say “do not press this through”, it is Parliament’s duty to listen. It is unprecedented to see more than six million people take time out to sign a petition. As a result, it is so important that Parliament listens to the public.

I have questioned the Prime Minister, and I am confused.

Why does she think it is okay for MPs to change their mind and vote time and again, yet it is not okay for the people of our country to do that?

After all, every five years we expect the country to change its mind in voting in general elections.

In fact, the Prime Minister wanted
the country to change its mind so that
the Government had a stronger

Clearly that did not go well for her, but that was after just two years.

We are now nearly three years out 
from the 2016 referendum. My constituents are absolutely right to
call for a public vote with the second petition.

Short of real political fixes, it seems inevitable that we will move to a longer extension to Article 50.

That would be the right move, 
giving us time to put our country back together and to decipher the relationship that we need with Europe ​as we move forward.

Brexit will have a serious impact on our country. In the early stages, an amendment came forward for citizens’ assemblies.

That would be a helpful way of proceeding before then moving to a further public vote to decide how to take things forward.

I thank my constituents for signing the petitions, and I trust that Parliament will hear them.

Rachael Maskell is the Labour MP for York Central. She spoke in a Parliamentary debate on Brexit – this is an edited version.