York Central MP Rachael Maskell gives her thoughts on the Parliamentary shut down

WHEN people elect their MPs, they select the person they believe is best served to stand up for them and act in their interest.

They expect their MP to fight their corner in Parliament; to hold the Government to account through questions, debates and ultimately votes.

Any constituent can come to me and ask me to take up an issue on their behalf, to put a particular question to a Minister or use any mechanism I can to get the Government to act.

If Parliament isn’t sitting, the voices of people across the country are silenced.

This is at a time we are facing an economic crisis, our public services are crumbling, crime is up and houses aren’t being built, we have a climate crisis, TV licenses for over 75s are being scrapped, social care is failing; my list is long.

Then there is Brexit. Parliament should be sitting day and night to solve all these problems.

We should have been sitting throughout the summer and most definitely now.

Instead the Prime Minister forced the Queen to shut down Parliament, an act which could prove to be illegal at the time of writing.

This means he would have only spent 61/2 days as Prime Minister over a three month period, dodging any form of accountability or scrutiny of his actions over this time.

I did everything in my power to try and stop the shutdown, including holding the Speaker to the Chair, last enacted in the seventeenth century.

I raised an emergency point of order and laid York’s petition in Parliament’s final moments.

I was elected to speak up for York, to raise your concerns, to ensure your voice is heard. I am now prevented from doing so in Parliament.

This is why I am holding weekly People’s Parliament events in York.

I want your voices to be heard and I will write to the Prime Minister and others to follow up on the issues that you raise with me.

As soon as Parliament ‘prorogued’, I went over to the EU, to hear directly from senior members of the EU Parliament, Commission and Council what they thought of the UK’s Brexit mess, and as I did so, I also learnt so much more about how they are responding to it.

While Britain has been arguing, the EU has been changing and as one MEP said, “we have heard Brexit louder than Westminster”.

They have significantly reformed with a new Parliament and Commission with a radical agenda on employment rights, climate, and social welfare policies.

A Parliament that is focused on addressing inequality and injustice.

They have scrapped wage dumping (wages being undercut) and ban zero hour contracts, yet to be implemented in the UK.

Their debates are dignified and progressive, their policies transformative, and they are tackling the big global issues that the UK alone cannot do.

As someone who lives and breathes politics, I learnt so much.

It was clear that these important things are rarely mentioned in the UK and it is essential before any future vote that we all are exposed to the truth.

Labour will put Brexit to a vote as soon as possible.

It would be wrong to do as the Lib Dems plan and just ignore what people said in 2016, but it would also be reckless to leave with ‘no deal’ as the Tories plan to do.

Labour will put the decision back in your hands.

I hope we will want to be part of the EU and be part of shaping it as it tackles the European and global challenges facing us in our world today.