Sheffield Yorkshire MEP defends wearing ‘B******s to Brexit’ T-Shirt on first day in European Parliament
Sheffield councillor and MEP Shaffaq Mohammed has defended wearing a T-shirt with the slogan ‘B******s to Brexit’ on his first day in the European Parliament – describing it as a ‘tongue in cheek’ act.
Mr Mohammed, who was elected as a Yorkshire and Humber MEP for the Liberal Democrats in May, took up his seat in Strasbourg, France on what he described as a ‘chaotic’ day. The former Lord Mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid, now an MEP for the Green Party, also claimed he was asked to leave for wearing a baseball cap and T-shirt reading ‘f*** fascism’.
Brexit Party members also turned their backs during a rendition of the European Union’s anthem ‘Ode To Joy’.
The LIb Dem members had the words 'stop Brexit' written across the front of their tops and the words ‘B******s to Brexit’ on the backs of the t-shirts. While in the chamber, some of the Liberal Democrat MEPs were overheard shouting out the words ‘stop Brexit’.
Mr Mohammed said the decision was made between the 16 Lib Dem MEPs to wear the T-shirts in the hope it would ‘send a clear message to the parliament’.
He said: “We had a manifesto and it was very clear about stopping Brexit and, as part of that, there was an alternative cover sheet that had the ‘B word’ on it and it got attention.
“We felt we needed to send a clear message to this parliament exactly what our position as Liberal Democrats was.”
The UK's elected representatives will only have their European Parliament seats for four months if the country leaves the EU on the current deadline of October 31.
Mr Mohammed said: “It was tongue in cheek and quite a lot of Europeans smiled about it. On the front we had ‘Stop Brexit’, it was only on the back.
“I don’t think anyone was offended, I think the only people who were offended were the Brexit Party but us just being here will offend them.”
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Asked if he thought he had embarrassed the country, the MEP added: “I don’t think it’s about embarrassment. There were lots of people with suits on so we thought we needed to stand out from the crowd.
“It got the attention we wanted and it got people talking. What happened [in Parliament] was synonymous with what kind of country we could end up with if Brexit happens – is that the kind of country we want?”
Mr Mohammed said politicans were met with protesters outside the parliament building as they arrived.
He said: “It was chaotic coming to a new place with thousands of Catalans outside protesting from Spain and other people waving flags as you enter this big mammoth of a place.
“You just think to yourself: ‘Okay, I’ve beenn elected to this role and had better get on with it.’”
The Yorkshire MEP said he would continue to combine his new position with that of Lib Dem councillor in the Ecclesall ward of Sheffield Council.
He said: “I am still doing my case work back in Sheffield. I have got remote access to my emails so I am still responding and ever since I have been elected I have always had a second job in youth services.”
Mr Magid claimed he had been asked to leave the the Parliament building in Strasbourg during the opening day of the new legislature.
He tweeted: “I know I’m visibly different. I don’t have the privilege to hide my identity. I’m BLACK & my name is Magid. I don’t intend to try fit in. Get used to it!”
After receiving messages of support, he said: “Just to clarity[sic], I obviously didn’t leave. But to even be put in this position says a lot about what people think the stereotypical politician is meant to look like.”
But a spokeswoman for the European Parliament disputed his claim and said: “We investigated the matter immediately after our attention was brought to it and can safely say that no member of Parliament staff was involved.”