Rachael Maskell

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Rachael Maskell

Rachael Maskell MP - official portrait 2017 (3-to-4 crop).jpg
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
27 June 2016 – 1 February 2017
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byKerry McCarthy
Succeeded bySue Hayman
Shadow Minister for Armed Forces Personnel and Veterans
In office
18 September 2015 – 27 June 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byGemma Doyle (Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans)
Succeeded byTBD
Member of Parliament
for York Central
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byHugh Bayley
Majority18,575 (35%)
Personal details
Born (1972-07-05) 5 July 1972 (age 46)
Political partyLabour Co-operative
Alma materUniversity of East Anglia
WebsiteOfficial website

Rachael Helen Maskell (born 5 July 1972) is a Labour Co-operative politician in the United Kingdom. She is the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of York Central after retaining the seat for her party at the 2015 and 2017 general elections.[1]


She graduated from the University of East Anglia with a degree in physiotherapy in 1994.[2]


Maskell became politically active at an early age. As a child, her uncle 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".[3]


Maskell worked as a care-worker and physiotherapist in the National Health Service for 20 years. Maskell has also been a trade-union official.[4][5]

Maskell used her maiden speech to advocate for a new mental health hospital in York to replace the ageing Bootham Park.[6] 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."[7]

On Wednesday 8 July 2015, Rachael Maskell was one of four Labour MPs elected to the Health Select Committee.[8]

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."[9]

In September 2015, during the European refugee crisis, Maskell called on the UK to open its doors to refugees; she said "we can all have a bit more compassion. If it was the other way round and we were in that desperate situation, we would expect somebody to show compassion to us."[10] Speaking as 20,000 refugees arrived in Munich in one weekend,[11] and as the German Government gets ready to receive 800,000 refugees in 2015;[12] 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?"[13] She is quoted as saying "20,000 is not enough and 30,000 is not enough' and that "We will keep going until we hit our saturation point because what does it matter if we have to wait another week for a hospital visit? Or if our class sizes, are slightly bigger? Or if, our city is slightly fuller? What does it matter, if things are slightly more challenging? If we have to pay a little bit more in to the system?";[10] 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,[14] 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."[15]

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.[16]

Following a period working part of the Shadow Defence Team under Shadow Secretary of State for Defence Maria Eagle,[17] Maskell was appointed Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary as part of the Labour Party's post-Brexit reshuffle.[18] 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.[19]

She returned to the Labour front bench on 3 July 2017 as Shadow Rail Minister.[20]

On 5 March 2019, she joined a dozen other Labour MPs on Westminster Bridge, next to the Houses of Parliament, in a protest against Brexit under the banner 'Love Socialism Hate Brexit'.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Maskell is a keen cyclist and rode the trip to Labour Conference 2015 in Brighton from Parliament in aid of the British Heart Foundation.[22]


  1. ^ "York Central Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Physio heads for Westminster as victorious MP". Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Interview with Rachael Maskell". The Yorker. 26 April 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  4. ^ Mitchell, Jasmine (25 September 2015). "Rising through ranks progressive agenda". dehavilland.co.uk. DeHavilland. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  5. ^ "Five Party Politics" (PDF). Change Opinion. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  6. ^ Prest, Victoria (3 June 2015). "York's new MP gives first Commons speech". The Press. York. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Rachael Maskell MP Maiden Speech". They Work For You. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  8. ^ "Health Committee – Membership – UK Parliament". Parliament. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  9. ^ Maskell, Rachael. "Rachael Votes Against Welfare Bill". rachaelmaskell.com. Rachael Maskell. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  10. ^ a b Hall, Macer (15 September 2015). "Anger as Labour MP tells Government 'take refugees until Britain BREAKS'". Daily Express. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  11. ^ Shapiro, Emily (8 September 2015). "Refugee Crisis: What you need to know". ABC News. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  12. ^ Reuters in Berlin (20 August 2015). "Germany raises estimate on refugee arrivals to 800,000 this year". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  13. ^ "Syria: Refugees and Counter-Terrorism". They Work For You. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  14. ^ Maskell, Rachael. "Refugee Crisis". rachaelmaskell.com. Rachael Maskell. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  15. ^ Maskell, Rachael. "UK should do more". rachaelmaskell.com. Rachael Maskell. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  16. ^ "Trade-Union Bill: 14 Sep 2015 : House of Commons debates". They Work For You. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Labour Frontbench: in full". labourlist.org. LabourList. 18 September 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  18. ^ "Jeremy Corbyn unveils new top team after resignations". BBC News. 27 June 2016.
  19. ^ Cowburn, Ashley (1 February 2017). "Rachael Maskell and Dawn Butler resign from Labour's Shadow Cabinet ahead of Article 50 vote". The Independent. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  20. ^ oidptg (8 July 2017). "Reshuffle 2: The Maintenance of the Malcontents". New Socialist. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  21. ^ Read, Jonathon (5 March 2019). "Love Socialism Hate Brexit protest held by Labour MPs in Westminster". The New European.
  22. ^ "Cycle stunts and circuits". York Mix. Retrieved 12 October 2015.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hugh Bayley
Member of Parliament
for York Central

Political offices
Preceded by
Kerry McCarthy
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Succeeded by
Sue Hayman