Shadow charities minister quits in protest over Covid regulations

Rachael Maskell has quit as shadow charities minister after disagreeing with the Labour Party’s policy on supporting government ‘Plan B’ measures to stop the spread of Covid.

The Labour MP for York Central is particularly concerned around a requirement for health workers to be vaccinated.

During the House of Commons debate over the measures Maskell, who is a former trade union leader and NHS care worker, said: “The very people we revered—who just a year ago we were clapping and calling our heroes—are the very people who are now exhausted, traumatised and frightened, and the legislation before us will sack them.

“For two decades I was their colleague and I know the dedication, compassion and care they give to their patients; I was their trade union leader and I know their professionalism and the sacrifice they give for the people they care for.

“I will not undermine that trusted relationship, which is absolutely essential in delivering healthcare in our country, and I will not ride roughshod over Labour’s NHS constitution, which pledges to assist people to participate fully in their own healthcare decisions and to support them in decision making.”

“I will not turn my back on working people and I will never forget my roots.”

She later added: “This is why I had to resign…I wouldn’t vote to sack health and care workers. I will always have their back and will always fight for them. Vaccination must be a choice.”

Maskell was appointed shadow minister for charities in April 2020. She was also a front bencher under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, including roles as shadow secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs as well as stints as rail and employment rights spokesperson.

The government’s Covid restrictions were voted through in the House of Commons this week with support from the Labour Party. Almost 100 Conservative MPs voted against plans to introduce Covid passes at venues in England.

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