New MEP will remain as a councillor amid calls for him to stand down
A Liberal Democrat councillor who was recently elected as an MEP has hit back after Labour said he shouldn’t do both jobs.
Coun Shaffaq Mohammed is standing down temporarily as the Leader of Sheffield Liberal Democrats but will remain as an Ecclesall councillor.
He will take up his new MEP position in Europe next month but says he is donating his councillor’s allowance, around £10,000 a year, to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance charity.
Labour has criticised Coun Mohammed, saying it’s not possible to effectively be an MEP and a councillor at the same time.
But Coun Mohammed has pointed to Labour politician Dan Jarvis, who is both a Barnsley MP and Sheffield City Region Mayor.
In an amendment at full council, Labour said: “Being a Member of the European Parliament is a full-time job scrutinising crucial European public policy and legislation and we believe it is not possible to effectively do this job whilst at the same time being a local councillor and Leader of the Main Opposition Group, aspiring to be Leader of the Council.
“We believe that these important roles should not be carried out by someone whose full time job is based in Brussels and Strasbourg and concludes, therefore, the right thing to do would be to stand down as a member of the council.”
Coun Mohammed said after the meeting: “It’s ironic Labour has chosen to have a pop at me when Labour’s Dan Jarvis is both an MP and Regional Mayor.
“I have already been approached by one Labour councillor who wants to work with me on non-party issues as I can be an advocate for the city in Europe.
“I have been a thorn in Labour’s side and I can understand why they want to see the back of me but I am not going to stop campaigning as a local councillor.”
MEPs don’t know how long they will be in the job because of the confusion surrounding Brexit and whether the country will leave the EU.
Stannington councillor Penny Baker, who will be interim Lib Dem Leader, said: “This is a strange situation because with Brexit, we don’t know how long the MEPs are going to be there.
“We want to give Shaffaq the freedom to do the job while the Government gets sorted out and until the country has a plan. We are 100 per cent behind him.”