Autistic Sheffield MP Jared O'Mara reveals he cannot attend Prime Minister's Questions due to the shouting and aggression
An autistic MP has revealed he cannot attend Prime Minister's Questions because of the shouting and "aggression" in the House of Commons' most-watched session.
Independent Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O'Mara revealed he had asked Commons Speaker John Bercow to make adjustments to the way he chairs debates so he could attend but this was "not taken into account".
PMQs is usually the parliamentary week's most well-attended and raucous session, as MPs in a packed chamber heckle their opponents as the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition trade blows from the Despatch Box.
As far back as 2010, Mr Bercow expressed a desire to reform PMQs to make it more civil and "less abuse masquerading as inquiry", but has failed to cut out regular heckling and shouting.
Mr O'Mara, who faced criticism for being largely absent from the Commons during a suspension from Labour for sexist and homophobic comments he made before he was an MP, revealed he has only attended PMQs once, telling a Westminster Hall debate on Monday night: “So far my autism has not been taken into account by Parliament.'‹
"I have asked for adjustments from the Speaker’s Office so that I can comfortably speak more in the Chamber, because with things such as shouting, when everyone is heckling, the aggression and the loud noises mean I cannot cope.
"I have only been to Prime Minister’s Questions once because of all the shouting”
Mr O’Mara also revealed Mr Bercow's decision to allow MPs to go tieless in the Commons chamber was made partly because the Sheffield MP's cerebral palsy affects his coordination and ability to do up a tie, while a clipper would irritate the skin around his neck.
But Mr O'Mara said several Labour MPs shouted “wear a tie, you scruff” at Tory James Duddridge when he went tieless during PMQs.
He went on: “Imagine how much that hurt me. I turned around and looked at them and shook my head, but I may as well have been invisible.”
The MP also took direct aim at Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership team, saying they made “sum total of one adjustment for me” by giving him an office near the Commons chamber.
And he claimed the highly controversial comments which earned him a suspension from Labour, before being reinstated only to quit the party in July, were simply “words of the time”, adding: “They were on the Eminem record that I listened to at the time. It was before November 2003."
Describing himself as an “intersectional feminist” who is committed to equality, he said people were “bullying me over things that I did not understand when I was 20 or 22” and “made false accusations of sexism and homophobia”.
Mr O’Mara went on: “Basically, there is a tendency in type 1 autistic people to mimic both the world around them and their peers, to try to fit in and not get bullied. That is what I was doing, and my bullying is an example of how people with autism are misunderstood and not listened to.”