Remain v Leave: Which side provides the best constituency MPs in Yorkshire?

January 15, 2019

By De-Mornae Clarke, Katie Garrett, Harry Graham, Eliza Laben, Suzannah Rogerson

Exclusive analysis of public data reveals a correlation between Brexit votes and MP activity

Residents of Haltemprice and Howden might be disappointed to hear that their constituency MP, David Davis, is one of a number of Brexit-supporting parliamentarians who prioritise leaving the EU over the more everyday business of the people that they represent. An analysis of every speech in parliament reveals that Mr Davis has failed to mention the name of his North Yorkshire constituency from the floor of the House of Commons since November 2015.

Our annual investigation extracted data from Hansard, the Public Whip, both publically available records of parliamentary proceedings. When combined, this shows that MP’s who voted to leave the European Union are — on average — less likely to discuss their constituency in parliament, when compared to their EU-supporting colleagues. 

Factors such as written question and answers and attended debates contributed to the conclusion that overall those who voted to leave the EU are less active within their constituency. However, our data does not represent any other responsibilities these MP’s may have.

The 2019 league table is categorised by the following criteria:

  • How often MPs spoke the name of their constituency in parliament;
  • Written Q&As, how often MPs sent official letters to ministers;
  • Debates attended
  • Debates spoken in.
  • Voting Record, amount of times they have voted in parliament
  • Rebelliousness, when they go against their party whip, often to represent the views of their constituents.
MP Ranking Role in Parliament Age Voting Record (2018) Questions Answered (2018) Number of Debates (2018) Constituency Mentions (2018)
1. Rachael Maskell
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Member of Parliament for York Central, Shadow Minister (Transport) 46 Has voted in 81.30% of votes in parliament Received answers to 111 written questions Has spoken in 166 debates Mentioned their constituency 113 times
2. Paul Blomfield
""
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central, Shadow Minister (exiting the European Union) 65 Has voted in 80.30% of votes in parliament Received answers to 280 written questions Has spoken in 76 debates Mentioned their constituency 26 times
3. Martin Vickers
Member of Parliament for Cleethorpes 68 Has voted in 91.90% of votes in parliament Received answers to 21 written questions Has spoken in 110 debates Mentioned their constituency 32 times
4. Kevin Hollinrake
Member of Parliament for Thirsk and Malton 55 Has voted in 93.40% of votes in parliament Received answers to 34 written questions Has spoken in 110 debates Mentioned their constituency 13 times
5. Philip Davies
""
Member of Parliament for Shipley 47 Has voted in 75.38% of votes in parliament Received answers to 381 written questions Has spoken in 90 debates Mentioned their constituency 11 times

 

Our analysis captures a clear image of MP activity within the Yorkshire and Humber region. We quantified all the publically-available data on MP activity available and then assigned a ranking to each category. Then, we calculated which MPs has the highest ranking in terms of the data available. We were then able to isolate data on both “leave” and “remain” MPs, and compare the two. 

We found that those who voted to remain mentioned their constituency more times than those who voted to leave, with a difference of 34%, while “remainers” sent 70% more written question and answers than thier Brexiteer counterparts. However, Brexiteers are present at 65% more debates than remainers.

 

Screenshot 2019-01-15 at 15.51.13

A chart to show how Remainers and Brexiteers rank on average when mentioning their constituency.

The overall league table for this year sees Rachel Maskell, Labour MP for York Central, at the top. This being her third year in a row that the former NHS care worker, has ranked first place. Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, ranked second and Martin Vickers, Conservative MP for Cleethorpes is third.

Ranking fourth was Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton. He said: “I am passionate about trying to get things right. The one way to get that is to get in the chamber and try to ask questions”. Of his role in parliament, he said: “There are two main hats as an MP, one for your constituency and the other for your country. Your party definitely comes after them”.

 

The average ranking for all categories sees pro-remain MPs edge the lead over their pro-Brexit peers. For example,  Rachel Maskell, who campaigned to remain within the EU, mentioned the name of her constituency more than any other MP, discussing York Central 113 times in the last year. Three further Labour MP’s follow behind, all “remainers”, with Stephanie Peacock (65), Emma Hardy (55) and Dan Jarvis (39) all politicians who spoke on behalf of their constituents in parliament in the last year.

 

 

 

Screenshot 2019-01-15 at 15.54.06

A chart to show how Brexiteer and Remainer MP’s rank overall.

 

Alex Sobel, Labour MP for Leeds North West, achieved sixth place on the league table. He mentioned Leeds 29 times in parliament last year, but it is his official paperwork where the pro-remain MP excels. One of his highest rankings was his 474 questions submitted to parliament.

 

As an MP he sees it as a priority to remember he is “working for them [constituents] to best solve the problems affecting my constituency”. Similarly, the priority of representing your party line as well as your constituents is prominent in the minds of all MP’s. Alex Sobel is a Labour MP as it is “the party best placed to solve the problems of my constituents”. Therefore “coincidentally working for constituents on the vast majority of issues supports the labour party goals”.

David Davis, MP for Haltemprice and Howden and an ardent Brexiteer, was ranked last in the annual league table of 54 Yorkshire MP’s. The veteran MP has failed to mention his constituency during any debate that he has attended. Indeed, the last time Mr Davis mentioned his constituency was November 2015 when Take Me to Church by Hozier was high in the charts and Leicester were on top of the league.

Other MP’s who ranked at the bottom of the league table were; Julian Smith, MP for Skipton and Ripon; Rosie Winterton, MP for Doncaster Central and Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness. We need to be clear that these MPs ranked low because of other roles that they hold within their party – Julian Smith is the Conservative chief whip, Rosie Winterton as Labour deputy speaker — and parliamentary protocol bars them from speaking from the floor of the commons, meaning that these MPs feature lower in the table than their backbench colleagues.

 

MP Ranking Role in Parliament Age Voting Record (2018) Questions Answered (2018) Number of Debates (2018) Constituency Mentions (2018)
49. Nigel Adams
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Member of Parliament for Selby and Ainsty , Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales 52 Has voted in 92.20% of votes in parliament Received answers to 0 written questions Has spoken in 18 debates Mentioned their constituency 0 times
50. Jared O’Mara
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hallam , Labour Party Whip Removed 37 Has voted in 00.00% of votes in parliament Received answers to 37 written questions Has spoken in 3 debates Mentioned their constituency 11 times
51. Graham Stuart
""
Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) 56 Has voted in 88.90% of votes in parliament Received answers to 0 written questions Has spoken in 11 debates Mentioned their constituency 0 times
52. Rosie Winterton
Member of Parliament for Doncaster Central, Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways & Means) 60 Has voted in 00.00% of votes in parliament Received answers to 0 written questions Has spoken in 129 debates Mentioned their constituency 0 times
53. Julian Smith
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Member of Parliament for Skipton and Ripon , Chief Whip 47 Has voted in 88.30% of votes in parliament Received answers to 0 written questions Has spoken in 0 debates Mentioned their constituency 0 times
54. David Davis
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Member of Parliament for Haltemprice and Howden, 70 Has voted in 71.71% of votes in parliament Received answers to 0 written questions Has spoken in 15 debates Mentioned their constituency 0 times

 

 

Alex Sobel, Labour MP for Leeds North West said: “They [shadow ministers and whips] are limited because they can only speak in their brief. Whips particularly, I imagine, are somewhere near the bottom of the list because [they] sit there all the time and then they can’t speak in debates.” He added: “I have a lot of sympathy for the whips. They never rebel or they would have to resign as a whip”.

Brexit has divided the nation with MP’s being responsible for ensuring that the country has the best outcome. After the vote in 2016, discussions have been ongoing with the European Union to organise a deal. MP’s have continued to campaign as to whether they support or oppose Brexit, with some rebelling against their party.

Matt Ashton, a politics lecturer at Nottingham Trent University spoke about whether he believes MP’s are becoming more rebellious: “Lots of MP’s are thinking about their jobs, thinking about if there is a general election all this talk about the will of the people when we have a situation like this. They’re going to say that actually I’m not going to put my country first or maybe even my party first, I’m going to think about how I save my seat.”  

From the data, we can determine that there is an overall trend of Yorkshire MP’s who voted to remain in 2016. Those who did, were found to mention their constituency in parliament over a third more than those who voted to leave the European Union. Although, Brexit has been seen as an issue to override several other legislative issues within the country, which has meant some MP’s have been — rightfully — focussed on it. But as attention has been drawn to it, what other business — constituency or otherwise — has been overlooked? 
Table Credits: Alex Armitstead, Henry Whitaker and Olly Wood.

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