Photo appears to show absent Sheffield MP Jared O'Mara on way to London for crucial Brexit vote
Few people were holding out much hope of absent Sheffield MP Jared O’Mara making an appearance for today’s crucial vote on Brexit.
The controversial Sheffield Hallam MP has not voted in parliament since April, according to The Public Whip, and has participated in less than a third of votes since sensationally ousting former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg from the seat in 2017.
But, with Britain’s future potentially resting in his hands ahead of what is widely predicted to be an incredibly tight division over Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal this afternoon, the latest evidence would suggest he’s ready to emerge from the shadows to have his say.
A photo shared this morning by David Cross appears to show the independent MP, who quit Labour following an investigation into sexist and homophobic comments he had posted on social media in his early 20s, preparing to board a train from Sheffield to London.
The initial photo was taken from behind by Mr Cross, who is a constituent of Mr O’Mara’s, but he has since shared another face-on snap showing the MP – or someone very closely resembling him – aboard what he said is the 9.29am train from Sheffield to London St Pancras.
Mr Cross, who is the founder of Sheffield-based CODA Architects, said the MP was sitting in a first class carriage surrounded by pro-EU campaigners heading to the capital for the People's Vote rally.
“It must be uncomfortable for him, to be honest, and he’s looking a little sheepish,” said Mr Cross.
“I was very surprised to see him, given what a hard shift he’s put in this year.
“I’m a remainer but even if he votes against Brexit I can’t forgive him for anything.
“He’s an absolute disgrace. He should have done the decent thing and resigned so a by-election could be held.”
Mr Cross later tweeted, presumably tongue firmly in check: “He is in First Class too. I didn’t want to mention that. An MP on £75k pa should be allowed first class travel. He’s worked hard for his salary and pension.”
The Star this morning visited Mr O’Mara’s flat in Kelham Island but it appeared to be uninhabited and a neighbour said the MP hadn’t been seen there for around a month.
Mr O’Mara has already missed a number of key votes on Brexit this year, including the one in September which led to the so-called Benn Act, requiring the Prime Minister to seek a Brexit extension if faced with a no deal situation.
He announced in July that he would step down but the Treasury, which administers MP resignations, later announced that he had postponed this decision, with no explanation given.
Voters despairing at their lack of representation recently formed a group called Hallam Constituents and revealed plans for direct action to help them take back control, including pressuring councillors to help with casework and asking candidates to sign a pledge committing themselves to the people of the constituency.
Mr O’Mara, who has cerebral palsy, has previously highlighted the difficulties disabled MPs face accessing parliament and has also spoken about his mental health problems.
In April this year, he suspended case work in his constituency office for a month following reports all his staff had either been sacked or resigned.
Shortly after the office reopened, one of his employees, Gareth Arnold, used Mr O’Mara’s own Twitter account to publicly resign and lambast his former boss.
Mr O’Mara responded by saying he was taking time out to receive professional help.
It remains to be seen whether Mr O’Mara will indeed vote today, or if so how.
While Sheffield as a whole voted by a small margin to leave the EU, estimates suggest around two thirds of voters in Sheffield Hallam backed remain in the referendum.