Mary Creagh

Working hard for Wakefield

My speech to Parliament on the Article 50 Bill

I have always sought to act in the best interests of people in Wakefield & defend Labour’s values. My speech to Parliament on why I voted against Article 50: 


Mr Speaker the European Union is a bureaucratic,cumbersome, imperfect system.

But it is the longest and most successful peace process the world has ever seen

It has transformed historic enemies into trading partners, allies, and friends.  

It gave hope to those labouring under the yoke of communism.

It has protected the UK’s workers, consumers and environment, supported the Northern Ireland peace process, and driven Britain’s economy, innovation and prosperity. 

I did not vote to hold the referendum.

I campaigned to remain.

But people in Wakefield voted to leave.  

The Labour whip says vote to trigger.

But my Labour values, solidarity, internationalism, social justice, say something else.

Because I see the Prime Minister talking about free trade, but walking out on the largest free trade area in the world.

To chase an imaginary trade deal with Donald Trump.

Populism and nationalism lead to protectionism. Protectionism destroys trade. People get poorer. People blame someone. We turn our back on openness, on tolerance, on other people. We forget they are people like us. 

A trade deal with the USA is a distraction.

The most important trade deal is the one we negotiate with the European Union.

That deal will determine whether Esseco UK in Wakefield face tariffs on the sulphites they export to wine makers in the EU.  

Or if Wakefield farmers face tariffs on the lamb they export to Belgium.

The Prime minister has a weak negotiating hand.

But she has thrown in her cards before the other players have sat down at the table!

She has rejected staying in the Single market, where 44% of the UK’s exports currently go, tariff free.

This hard Brexit

was not what Leave campaigners told people in the referendum.

The UK’s access to the largest free trade area in the world will be worse after 2019.  

That puts thousands of British jobs at risk. 

An open society, without discrimination, is the founding pillar of our British and European identity.  

Since the referendum, hate crime is up.

There is fear and uncertainty for thousands of our teachers, nurses, carers, our co-workers, neighbours, and friends.

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, meet his wife, get his degree, raise his family, work and pay his taxes here.  

After Brexit, someone like him, without a degree, say, from Eastern Europe, will no longer be welcome.  

I hope we are better than that.

This vote means our children will have fewer rights to live, work, and study in Europe than we had.  

Their wildlife, and countryside will suffer when we lose the EU’s environmental protections.

This vote diminishes Britain’s place in the world.

To the people of Wakefield, I say, I have always sought to act in your best interests.

My duty is to use my judgement to make your lives better.  

You did not elect me to make you poorer.

To destroy your jobs and weaken your public services.

My judgement, as someone who lived in Belgium and Italy and who worked with entrepreneurs for 7 years;

as an elected public servant for the last 19 years;

my judgement is this vote will make people in Wakefield poorer, will destroy jobs and businesses, remove social, consumer and environmental rights, and reduce the tax base that funds our NHS, schools and council services.

It helps the right wing of the Conservative party and it is the wrong future for our country.  

History has its eyes on us today. So here is my answer.

I can no more vote for this than I can vote against my conscience.

I can no more vote for this than I can vote against my Labour values.

I can no more vote for this than I can vote against my own DNA.

I did not vote to hold the referendum. And I will not vote to trigger Article 50 today.

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