“I’ve looked at the city in particular. I’ve looked at higher education, jobs, the local economy, and I have to say, overwhelmingly, I believe York will be better off in than out.”
York Central MP Rachael Maskell will be voting to remain in the European Union on June 23.
Having worked in the National Health Service for 20 years, how it would be affected by a vote leave is a major concern to her.
In February health regulator NHS Improvement identified the need for 15,000 more nurses in the NHS, and EU migrants currently make up ten percent of NHS doctors and four percent of nurses.
And Ms Maskell believes York Hospital is reliant on being able to bring in more migrant labour, something that was identified by the Care Quality Commission when they inspected the hospital in March of last year.
“It highlighted that there were real skills shortages in certain areas, particularly nursing.
“As a result of that it’s had to go overseas to actively recruit skilled professionals to come into the NHS. So our NHS is totally dependent on migrant labour at the moment.”
‘Reduced investment in York’
As well as worries about the NHS, Maskell is also concerned about how a period of economic uncertainty as a result of a leave vote would affect the local economy, and in turn job creation.
“If you look at some of the major players in York, Nestlé for example – their chairman has come out to say they wouldn’t be making further investment in York [if we left]. And they’re a major employer.
“Aviva, again, have deep concerns about what happens if we come out of Europe.”
Ms Maskell said she’s heard the same message from employers large and small.
“Best Western, who have their headquarters in York, are really concerned. They’re 100 per cent supporting us staying in for the viability in their future.
“Whereas I go to the growth areas – for example the biotech industry, I’ve talked to a small medical instruments company, and they’re all saying that they’re totally dependent on us staying in the EU.”
The MP believes it would hit York people in the pocket. “If we aren’t part of Europe there will be disinvestment in our local economy, and that would make us even lower wage.
“I would rather be pushing up wages and ensuring better jobs, better terms and conditions. Our economy is big because of our financial services, which is big because we lead in Europe. So I have real concern about where we would regress to.”
Visitors aren’t going to stop heading to our city, Ms Maskell admits. “The reality is that people will want to come to York regardless.
“But we do know there will be changes with things like the taxes that people have to pay to come here, even things like phone tariffs – that will have an impact.
“What the hotel industry has told me is that they will be negatively impacted.”
From Elvington to Thorganby to Murton, York is surrounded by areas of productive farming industry.
But what would the York Central MP say to farmers?
“The reality is that they depend on a lot of trade with the EU. It’s a major place of export for the farming industry.
“What I would say is: be in Europe, be at the table, and let’s negotiate change. I would encourage those in the farming trade to be part of the change that is needed in their own industry.”
And Ms Maskell warns that voters should take a step back to truly look at whose side they’re on.
“You just have to look at who’s been on the side of ordinary people throughout history.
“We [Remain] have got the trade unions, we’ve got the Labour Party, and we’ve got so many people who are social changers. People who have always fought for ordinary people are saying to remain in Europe.
“Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Nigel Farage – these are the people who are now pretending they’re going to be the saviours of the NHS, yet they have written down that they are the people who are going to privatise it.
“They’re the people who have undermined jobs and employment. They’ve never stood up for working people.
“And therefore what I would say is: be with your trusted friends when making your decision on the 23rd of June.”