|Shadow Minister for the Voluntary Sector and Charities|
|Assumed office |
10 April 2020
|Preceded by||Vicky Foxcroft (Civil Society)|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights|
7 January 2020 – 6 April 2020
|Preceded by||Laura Pidcock|
|Succeeded by||Andy McDonald|
|Shadow Minister for Rail|
3 July 2017 – 7 January 2020
|Preceded by||Pat Glass|
|Succeeded by||Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs|
27 June 2016 – 1 February 2017
|Preceded by||Kerry McCarthy|
|Succeeded by||Sue Hayman|
|Shadow Minister for Armed Forces Personnel and Veterans|
18 September 2015 – 27 June 2016
|Preceded by||Gemma Doyle|
|Member of Parliament|
for York Central
|Assumed office |
7 May 2015
|Preceded by||Hugh Bayley|
|Born||5 July 1972|
Winchester, Hampshire, England
|Political party||Labour Co-operative|
|Alma mater||University of East Anglia|
Rachael Helen Maskell (born 5 July 1972) is a British Labour and Co-operative politician serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for York Central since 2015, and the Shadow Minister for the Voluntary Sector and Charities since 2020.
Maskell served briefly in Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet in 2020 as the Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights, succeeding Laura Pidcock, and previously from 2016 to 2017 as Shadow Environment Secretary. She was a Shadow Junior Transport Minister under Andy McDonald from 2017 to 2020. She is MP for the constituency of York Central after retaining the seat for her party at the 2015 general election. She was reelected in 2017 and 2019.
Maskell was born in Winchester, Hampshire in South East England and was brought up in Highcliffe on the border between Dorset and Hampshire. She was influenced to take up an interest in politics by her uncle Terence Morris, a close associate of Louis Blom-Cooper, who was a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the London School of Economics. She graduated from the University of East Anglia with a degree in physiotherapy in 1994. Morris had campaigned for the abolition of the death penalty, in addition to serving as an advisor to the Wilson government and as an academic. The Yorker, a York-based student publication, states: "[he] preferred to live and work amongst his community rather than be without. [H]is approach to politics was her inspiration as a child".
Maskell worked as a care-worker and physiotherapist in the National Health Service for 20 years in the south of England in Norwich and the London Borough of Barnet. Maskell has also been a trade-union official.
With the retirement of Hugh Bayley, the Labour MP for York Central in 2015, the Labour Party selected Maskell to stand in his place for the 2015 United Kingdom general election, though she had no previous connection to York itself having spent her life in southern England. She retained the safe seat which Labour had held since 1992 with 42% of the vote.
Maskell used her maiden speech to advocate for a new mental health hospital in York to replace the ageing Bootham Park. Speaking of the vision of "late member for Ebbw Vale" Aneurin Bevan, she said that "the growing social and financial inequalities manifest themselves in health inequality, and access to vital services is delayed and even denied as a direct result of the £3 billion structural reorganisation that the previous Government introduced."
Maskell voted against the Welfare Bill in the House of Commons on 20 July 2015. Maskell made a statement saying "I have a duty to protect our vulnerable people. I could not stand by and let the most vicious Tory attacks on some of the poorest in our city go unchallenged."
In September 2015, during the European refugee crisis, Maskell called on the UK to open its doors to refugees. Speaking as 20,000 refugees arrived in Munich in one weekend, and as the German Government got ready to receive 800,000 refugees in 2015; Maskell said that the UK Government must do more. She questioned David Cameron in the House of Commons asking "what criteria has the Prime Minister used to arrive at a figure of just six refugees per constituency per year?" In a statement on the crisis, she urged local authorities to help in every way they can and use every space they had to offer to aid people fleeing war in Syria and Northern Iraq, she said "we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that is getting worse, I am incensed that Turkey is hosting over one and a half million refugees and our government says we will open our borders to no more than six men, women and children a year in each constituency."
Maskell spoke in the Trade-Union Bill 2nd Reading debate on 14 September 2015. She referred the house to her Register of Interests as a member of Unite the Union declared "I am a proud trade-unionist" – she subsequently voted against the Bill.
Following a period working part of the Shadow Defence Team under Shadow Secretary of State for Defence Maria Eagle, Maskell was appointed Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary as part of the Labour Party's post-Brexit reshuffle. Maskell resigned from her position ahead of the vote on the second reading in the House of Commons European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2017 which triggers Article 50 which carried a three-line whip imposed on Labour MPs.
She returned to the Labour front bench on 3 July 2017 as Shadow Rail Minister.
She was one of five Labour MPs to vote against the extension of abortion rights to Northern Ireland. During votes on the same bill, she also abstained on extending same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland.
Maskell endorsed Clive Lewis in the 2020 Labour Party leadership election. In January 2020, Maskell was returned to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights, replacing Laura Pidcock who lost her seat in the 2019 general election.
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