Sheffield MP Jared O’Mara has likened those who criticised his failure to vote in key Brexit policy amendments to football hooligans who ‘smell of processed meats’.
Mr O’Mara, the MP for Sheffield Hallam, said he hurt himself in the shower and didn’t vote in Wednesday’s ballot on different options for the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.
He said he chose to ‘focus his full attention on another sizeable political matter of a sensitive nature that was not something he could postpone’, adding that another reason was that the votes were not binding.
In a statement Mr O'Mara, aged 37, said: “Political representatives often have to face tough choices and face the consequences of their decisions as everybody knows. It is with this in mind that I would politely ask the public to exercise a little clemency and understanding when your preference or the decision you feel you would make is not chosen.
“It is the nature of the role and to attack somebody just for doing their job the way they feel is best has similarities to a hooligan on the terraces threatening the referee whilst drinking flat lager and smelling of processed meats. This shouldn't be something any self-respecting person wants to emulate.
“Similarly, if someone is unable to attend work because of an illness, medical appointment, religious festival, family crisis or bereavement, then this is always worthy of empathy and sensitivity, without exception.
“Furthermore, in any other workplace except parliament their work would be covered by a colleague or they would be provided with the necessary means to do a task remotely. Parliament could do this but chooses not to.”
Sheffield Hallam constituents had contacted The Star questioning Mr O’Mara’s failure to vote but the MP, who did vote in the third vote on Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement on Friday, called for MPs to be able to vote without actually attending the Houses of Parliament.
Mr O’Mara said: “As part of Employment law your employer is legally bound to make adjustments in certain circumstances such as some of those aforementioned and has the decency and professional acumen to do so in others.
“At the moment only new parents have a proxy available and other worthy circumstances do not. Nobody can vote remotely via technology.”
The independent MP, who has autism and cerebral palsy, said he had written to both Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn about the issue.
He added: “Mrs May didn't reply and Mr Corbyn told me to go see a doctor. This made me very angry and upset. It says a lot about them both to me.
“It also says a lot about Parliament that the votes in the chamber are actually cast by a staff member pressing a button on a portable computer.
“What does this all say about Westminster to you? I think any MPs who don't think this is important are stealing your votes from you and harming their colleagues' health.
“You should share your thoughts to them by email or via social media (or politely, in person, with a friend or a group) if you think this is unfair and discriminatory, like I do. If you could help your representatives have this option then they won't have many valid excuses for not voting.”
Mr O’Mara encouraged people to use the hashtag #b*****kstodiscrimination when sharing any posts on the issue on social media.