Creagh votes against EU exit plan after the city said ‘leave’

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh

Mary Creagh voted against triggering the UK’s exit from the European Union - despite a huge majority of people in her own constituency being in favour of Brexit.

Ms Creagh was among 49 Labour MPs who defied an official order by the party to vote for the Brexit bill on Wednesday night.

Last June, 66.3 per cent of voters in the Wakefield Council area voted to leave the EU, way higher than the national Brexit vote of 51.9 per cent.

But since the referendum, fears have been raised over the Conservative government’s intentions for Brexit. Economic uncertainty and possible erosion or workers’ rights are among the concerns.

Following the vote, which went heavily in favour of the bill, Ms Creagh said she had received a mixed response from constituents.

She said: “People have told me they regret the (referendum) vote. It caused a huge amount of division in families and friendships.

“I’ve heard from people across the constituency, thanking me for speaking out for them.

“It’s totally mixed. Some people have wanted an explanation, some people have been angry, and some have been abusive - unfortunately that’s what politics is like at the moment.”

In parliament on Wednesday Ms Creagh said the Brexit on offer was not what was promised during the referendum campaign.

She said: “To the people of Wakefield I say that I have always sought to act in their best interests. My duty is to use my judgment to make their lives better.

“You did not elect me to make you poorer, destroy your jobs and weaken your public services. My judgement is this vote will make people in Wakefield poorer, will destroy jobs and business, remove social, consumer and environmental rights, and reduce the tax base which funds our NHS, schools and services.”

“I can no more vote for this Bill than I can vote against my conscience. I cannot vote for it because it is against my values, and I can no more vote for it than I can vote against my own DNA.”

Ms Creagh said the EU was cumbersome and bureaucratic, but created among European countries.

She said: “Since the referendum, hate crime and far-right activity in Yorkshire is up.

“My father, Tom, died in October. The last vote he cast was to remain in the EU. He came to Britain from Ireland in 1962 to earn his living, met his wife, got his degree, raised his family, and worked and paid his taxes here.

“After Brexit, someone like him without a degree from, say, eastern Europe will face barriers in coming here. I hope that we are better than that.”

Ken Clark was the only Tory MP to vote against the bill, which authorises the government to start the Brexit process.

Wakefield Conservative spokesman Antony Calvert said: “As an MP, Mary Creagh should represent Wakefield in Westminster, not the other way round. I am very disappointed that she has decided to act on her own, rather than for her constituents, in voting against the expressed wishes of the country and her voters.”