Westminster is currently shut down for up to five weeks as MPs begin the highly-contested prorogation and tensions are rising as the proposed Brexit date looms.

While many MPs, and now a Scottish court say the prorogation is unjustified, some Leave campaigners believe parliamentarians are not fulfilling the wishes of their voters.

Ferret Fact Service | Scotlands impartial fact check project

A Twitter post suggested that Labour MPs who represent areas which voted leave “don’t respect democracy” by arguing and voting against Brexit. This was accompanied by a list of MPs and the percentage of their constituents who voted leave.

Ferret Fact Service looked at this claim and found it Mostly False.

Evidence

After the result of the EU referendum became clear, it was noted that many Remain campaigning MPs were representing constituency areas which were likely to have voted for Brexit.

Data on constituency voting in the EU referendum is not complete, as polling was not counted by constituency. However, some data was released by councils, and a BBC freedom of information request, while estimates of the full UK constituency vote were compiled by Professor Christopher Hanretty, a political scientist at Royal Holloway University.

The estimates are a combination of official data released and that retrieved by the BBC, together with statistical modelling using demographics of voters in different constituencies.

As such they come with a health warning, as Professor Hanretty says in his article explaining the model.

“I’d like you to say ‘probably’ before you talk about how a constituency voted, unless I’ve flagged up a result as being known exactly,” he explains.

A significant problem with this tweet is that many of the named MPs are no longer in the Labour Party.

The first name on the list is ‘Kate Smeeth’. Presumably this refers to the Labour MP, Ruth Smeeth, who represents Stoke-On-Trent North. According to the constituency estimates, around 72 per cent probably voted to Leave.

Former Labour leader, Ed Miliband, represents Doncaster North, where an estimated 71.7 per cent voted Leave, while Gloria Del Piero is Labour MP for Ashfield, where it is estimated 70.5 per cent Leave.

John Cruddas remains the Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham, where 70 per cent probably backed Brexit. Around same proportion (69.3 per cent) voted Leave in Yvette Cooper’s constituency of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, and the Wentworth and Dearne area represented by John Healey.

The claim that 71.2 per cent of David Winnick’s Walsall North constituency voted Leave is slightly under the actual figure of 74.2 per cent, however he is no longer an MP, having been defeated at the 2017 general election.

Rob Flello lost his seat in 2017 too after being defeated by the Conservative candidate. He has left the Labour Party altogether and is a member of the Liberal Democrats.

Michael Dugher is another who left politics at the 2017 general election, and is no longer an MP, likewise Alan Meale who was defeated after 30 years as MP for Mansfield . Ian Austin is an independent MP after leaving the Labour Party in 2019. His Dudley North constituency voted slightly higher for Leave than the claim (71.4 per cent)

We cannot fact-check whether these MPs respect democracy, as this is a value judgement made in the initial tweet. But we can say that while all these MPs campaigned for Remain, they have voted in various ways surrounding Brexit. Ian Austin and Ruth Smeeth, for example, have repeatedly argued for the result of the referendum to be enacted and opposed a second EU referendum.

Ferret Fact Service verdict: Mostly False

This viral tweet about Labour MPs uses credible data about how many people voted leave in each constituency, but not about who is an MP. Just under half the MPs mentioned are either no longer MPs or are not part of the Labour Party. While all campaigned for Remain during the referendum, they have subsequently backed different responses to the Brexit vote.

This claim is Mostly False

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, working to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles. All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here. Want to suggest a fact check? Email us at factcheck@theferret.scot or join our Facebook group.

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