Rachael Maskell

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Rachael Maskell
Official portrait of Rachael Maskell MP crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2020
Shadow Minister for Arts, Civil Society and Youth[a]
In office
10 April 2020 – 14 December 2021
LeaderKeir Starmer
Preceded byVicky Foxcroft
Succeeded byBarbara Keeley
Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights
In office
7 January 2020 – 6 April 2020
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byLaura Pidcock
Succeeded byAndy McDonald
Shadow Minister for Rail
In office
3 July 2017 – 7 January 2020
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byPat Glass
Succeeded byTanmanjeet Singh Dhesi
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 byYvonne Fovargue
Succeeded byGerald Jones
Member of Parliament
for York Central
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byHugh Bayley
Majority13,545 (27.4%)
Personal details
Born (1972-07-05) 5 July 1972 (age 50)
Winchester, Hampshire, England
Political partyLabour Co-op
Other political
Socialist Campaign Group (since 2015)
Alma materUniversity of East Anglia
WebsiteOfficial website

Rachael Helen Maskell (born 5 July 1972) is a British politician serving as Member of Parliament (MP) for York Central since 2015. A member of the Labour and Co-operative parties, she was Shadow Environment Secretary from 2016 to 2017 and Shadow Employment Secretary in 2020. She is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group parliamentary caucus.[citation needed][not verified in body]


Maskell was born in Winchester, Hampshire in South East England and was brought up in Highcliffe on the border between Dorset and Hampshire.[1] 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.[1] 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".[2]

Maskell graduated from the University of East Anglia with a degree in physiotherapy in 1994.[3] She worked as a care-worker and physiotherapist in the National Health Service for 20 years in Norwich and the London Borough of Barnet.[1] Maskell has also been a trade-union official.[4][5]


In 2006, Maskell stood as a Labour candidate for the Blackheath ward in Lewisham, south east London. The election saw the Liberal Democrats gain all three seats from Labour, however.[6]

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 that year's 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. She was reelected in 2017 and 2019.[7][8]

Maskell used her maiden speech to advocate for a new mental health hospital in York to replace the ageing Bootham Park.[9] 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."[10]

On Wednesday 8 July 2015, Maskell was one of four Labour MPs elected to the Health Select Committee.[11]

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."[12]

In September 2015, during the European refugee crisis, Maskell called on the UK to open its doors to refugees.[13] Speaking as 20,000 refugees arrived in Munich in one weekend,[14] and as the German Government got ready to receive 800,000 refugees in 2015;[15] 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?"[16] 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,[17] 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."[18]

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.[19]

Following a period working part of the Shadow Defence Team under Shadow Secretary of State for Defence Maria Eagle,[20] Maskell was appointed Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary as part of the Labour Party's post-Brexit reshuffle.[21] 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 triggering Article 50, which carried a three-line whip imposed on Labour MPs.[22]

She returned to the Labour front bench on 3 July 2017 as Shadow Rail Minister.[23]

On 5 March 2019, Maskell 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'.[24]

She was one of five Labour MPs to vote against the extension of abortion rights to Northern Ireland.[25] During votes on the same bill, she also abstained on extending same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland.[26]

Maskell endorsed Clive Lewis in the 2020 Labour Party leadership election.[27][28] 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.[29]

On 14 December 2021, Maskell resigned from her frontbench role in order to defy the party whip by voting against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for NHS staff.[30] She also voted in line with the party whip by voting in favour of COVID-19 vaccine passports and an expansion of mask mandates.[31][32]

On 22 June 2022, Maskell was the only Labour MP to vote against extension of abortion services in Northern Ireland.[33]

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.[34]


  1. ^ Voluntary Sector and Charities (2020–21)


  1. ^ a b c "Rachael Maskell" (PDF). ASLEF. January 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Interview with Rachael Maskell". The Yorker. 26 April 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Physio heads for Westminster as victorious MP". Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  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. ^ Teale, Andrew. "2006 - Lewisham". Local Elections Archive Project. Retrieved 13 July 2022.
  7. ^ "York Central Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  8. ^ "York Central parliamentary constituency – Election 2019". BBC News. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  9. ^ Prest, Victoria (3 June 2015). "York's new MP gives first Commons speech". The Press. York. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Rachael Maskell MP Maiden Speech". They Work For You. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Health Committee – Membership – UK Parliament". Parliament. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  12. ^ Maskell, Rachael. "Rachael Votes Against Welfare Bill". rachaelmaskell.com. Rachael Maskell. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  13. ^ Hall, Macer (15 September 2015). "Anger as Labour MP tells Government 'take refugees until Britain BREAKS'". Daily Express. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  14. ^ Shapiro, Emily (8 September 2015). "Refugee Crisis: What you need to know". ABC News. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  15. ^ Reuters in Berlin (20 August 2015). "Germany raises estimate on refugee arrivals to 800,000 this year". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 September 2015. {{cite news}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  16. ^ "Syria: Refugees and Counter-Terrorism". They Work For You. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  17. ^ Maskell, Rachael. "Refugee Crisis". rachaelmaskell.com. Rachael Maskell. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  18. ^ "UK should do more". rachaelmaskell.com. Rachael Maskell. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  19. ^ "Trade-Union Bill: 14 Sep 2015 : House of Commons debates". They Work For You. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  20. ^ "Labour Frontbench: in full". labourlist.org. LabourList. 18 September 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  21. ^ "Jeremy Corbyn unveils new top team after resignations". BBC News. 27 June 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ oidptg (8 July 2017). "Reshuffle 2: The Maintenance of the Malcontents". New Socialist. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  24. ^ Read, Jonathon (5 March 2019). "Love Socialism Hate Brexit protest held by Labour MPs in Westminster". The New European. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  25. ^ "Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill: Committee of the whole House New Clause 10 (Creasy) – CommonsVotes". commonsvotes.digiminster.com. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  26. ^ "Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill: Committee of the whole House New Clause 1 (McGinn) – CommonsVotes". commonsvotes.digiminster.com. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  27. ^ "Rachel Maskell MP makes her leadership pick". Minster FM. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  28. ^ "Rachael Maskell MP: Clive Lewis is the 'political signpost' that will lead the Labour Party back to power". Politics Home. 6 January 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  29. ^ "Shadow cabinet jobs for Yorkshire MPs Tracy Brabin and Rachael Maskell". Yorkshire Post. 7 January 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  30. ^ Rodgers, Sienna; Chappell, Elliot (14 December 2021). "22 Labour MPs rebel and two frontbenchers quit over new Covid laws". LabourList. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  31. ^ "Health Protection (Entry to venues etc) SI No 1416". UK Parliament. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  32. ^ "Health Regulations (Face Coverings) SI No 1400". UK Parliament. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  33. ^ "Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2022 (SI, 2022, No. 554) Votes by Party". 22 June 2022. Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  34. ^ "Cycle stunts and circuits". York Mix. 14 September 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2015.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for York Central
Political offices
Preceded by Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Succeeded by