Sheffield MP Jared O'Mara misses key Brexit vote - because he's banned from wearing shorts and vest in parliament
Sheffield MP Jared O’Mara has said he missed a key vote on Brexit – because he wouldn’t have been able to wear a vest and shorts in parliament.
The Sheffield Hallam MP missed a Labour-tabled vote on introducing moves to prevent a no-deal Brexit – and has told his constituents that his non-attendance was due to a series of health problems which have left him ‘unable to get up from a chair.’
In a blog post under the heading ‘why I missed yesterday’s vote in Commons, previous ones and future ones,’ Mr O’Mara wrote: “I know I owe my constituents an explanation for this - and previous - absences.
“I have a slipped disc in my back, a torn bicep in my left arm and Cerebral Palsy in my right arm. I am forced into wearing a vest and elasticated shorts. My general mobility is laughable.
“If it were not for my kind parents and staff helping out I would not even be able to get up from a chair. The Parliamentary estate would not allow me dressed like this, even if I could travel.”
Earlier this year, he announced he was shutting down his constituency office for a month after sacking all of his staff and locking them out of the building.
There have been repeated calls for him to stand down because of his poor attendance record in the House of Commons.
In his latest blog article, he took a swipe at Parliament and said that its procedures were discriminatory against people with disabilities.
He wrote: “I am not sure if this is public knowledge but the House of Commons does not have to abide by The Equality Act.
“They have no interest in allowing disabled individuals to remotely vote. Pleas to The Speakers Office and Procedures Committee have fallen on deaf ears.
“Restrictions on remote voting are under trial for maternity leave. It looks as though disabled individuals are being neglected in this.
“A simple change to this rule: allowing immobile and disabled peoples to remotely vote in the Commons would allow me to vote even when I am unable to attend Parliament.
“It would allow me - and future generations of MPs with disabilities - to give constituents the representation they deserve.
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“This sort of thing is a fact of life for many parents, children, adults and carers. I have campaigned and advocated for this since I was a teenager.
“Sadly, ableism (prejudice and hatred against people with disabilities) and neurophobia (prejudice and hatred against people with neurological and psychological disabilities) is still very common. It feels like nobody else cares but us lot who have (or love someone with) a disability.
“I will continue to campaign for this adjustment. It's important that all people are allowed represent constituents in Parliament, even if they are unable to travel for long periods of time.”
Mr O’Mara has once again come under fire with Laura Gordon, the prospective Lib Dem candidate for Mr O’Mara’s Hallam constituency attacking him on Twitter.
She wrote: “Disappointing to see Sheffield Hallam unrepresented on yet another close vote. This isn't acceptable - it's a crucial time for our country and the people of Hallam deserve a functioning MP.”
In April, Mr O’Mara announced he would be unable to hold constituency surgeries or respond to phone calls or correspondence for around four weeks while he sought new staff and a new office, but the Star understands it still remains closed seven weeks later.
He was elected as the Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam in 2017, before quitting the party in 2018 after being suspended over historic mysoginistic and homophobic comments made online.
Mr O’Mara, who has autism and cerebral palsy, said he had missed earlier Brexit votes after slipping in the shower.
It has now emerged that an ex-employee at his constituency office, Maggie Flude, is taking him to an industrial tribunal, with the case listed to be heard in court in Sheffield on September 25.
It is understood Ms Flude is claiming wrongful dismissal though Leeds Employment Tribunal Office, which handles cases in Sheffield, said it was unable to confirm details other than the date and the names of the parties involved.
Recently, his new chief of staff Gareth Arnold said a replacement team was now in place and he expected the office to reopen by the start of July.Mr O’Mara, a former club DJ, has previously said his autism prevents him from attending debates as he is unable to cope with noise, shouting and heckling in in the chamber.
He has voted 144 times out of 417 opportunities to do so since being elected – a participation rate of 35 per cent according to figures on The Public Whip website.