Sheffield MP Jared O’Mara launches petition after criticism for failing to vote in House of Commons

Controversial Sheffield MP Jared O’Mara has launched a petition calling for politicans to be able to vote remotely.

Sunday, 14th July 2019, 2:13 pm
Updated Sunday, 14th July 2019, 8:58 pm

Mr O’Mara, who has been criticised by constituents for failing to vote in key Brexit amendments, said allowing MPs who cannot attend the House of Commons to vote remotely would encourage MPs to spend more time in their constituency.

He has endured a turbulent two years in office since he was elected in 2017.

The politician closed his constituency office for a month in April, there were reports that all his staff were either sacked or walked out, and he stopped holding surgeries or responding to correspondence.

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Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O'Mara

He also quit the Labour Party last year after being suspended over historic misogynistic and homophobic comments made online.

More recently, he faced criticism for failing to take part in a key Brexit vote.

The petition, which has been set up by his chief of staff Gareth Arnold, said: “Members of Parliament who are not able to attend the House of Commons cannot vote remotely.

“With the introduction of remote voting for MPs they would be able to vote in the Commons regardless of the MPs mobility, agenda or distance.

“The Speakers Office, Procedures Committee and the UK Government have it within their power to bring our democracy into the digital age.

“Remote voting would allow the electorate representation regardless of a Members mobility, work agenda, illness etc.

“Votes in the Commons are currently recorded on an iPad, which begs the question: why isn't a technological solution in place for MPs to vote remotely? “

MPs are only currently allowed to vote remotely when on parental leave, which is being trialed by the House of Commons.

In the petition, Mr Arnold said benefits of extended remote voting would include: “Better, more effective representation for the electorate; encourage MPs to spend more time in their constituency; MPs in transit less; more time to work; reduced carbon emissions; reduced travel costs and burden to taxpayer; no more excuses by MPs for not voting.”

The petition has so far been signed by 30 people.

In an exclusive interview with The Star last month, the MP said he would not resign and added that appointing a new team and moving into new officers has given him renewed focus to fight for constituents.

He said: “It feels like a rebirth. I have people moving in my direction. I feel really energised going forward.

“Watch this space because there will be a lot happening.”

Asked about the criticism he has received, Mr O’Mara said: “I have not been lazy, we have been really busy. There has been a huge recruitment drive for new staff and we will be moving into a new office.

“Rather than apologise I want to thank my constituents for their patience, I am proud to represent them.

“We have been doing casework since June 3 and we have caught up with everything now.”