Fury as Pimlico Plumbers boss and Remain campaigner Charlie Mullins says he would prefer a ‘rerun’ of the pandemic over Brexit because leaving the EU will cause more ‘lasting damage’ and no deal is ‘one disaster too far’
- Charlie Mullins said he would rather endure damage done to economy by virus
- He said he would take this over prospect of leaving the EU without a trade deal
- His comments unlikely to go down well after tens of thousands died from virus
- Conservative Daniel Kawczynski said Mr Mullins’ words were ‘deeply inaccurate’
- Brexit trade deal negotiations between the UK and EU are continuing this week
The boss of Pimlico Plumbers has been blasted after he said he would prefer a ‘rerun’ of the pandemic over Brexit.
Charlie Mullins claimed leaving the EU will cause more ‘lasting damage’ than the health crisis and no trade deal is ‘one disaster too far’.
His comments did not go down well after tens of thousands of Britons have died from Covid-19 over the last seven months.
Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski told MailOnline Mr Mullins’ words were a ‘deeply inaccurate, exceptionally insensitive and highly reprehensible thing to say’.
His colleague Craig Mackinlay said ‘likening lumps and bumps of Brexit with the Covid crisis’ is in ‘very poor taste’.
Director of Get Britain Out Jayne Adye added it showed how ‘out of touch’ the businessman was.
Meanwhile post-Brexit trade deal negotiations between the UK and EU are continuing in Brussels amid reports progress could see a deal agreed this week.
Charlie Mullins (pictured) claimed leaving the EU will cause more ‘lasting damage’ than the health crisis and no trade deal is ‘one disaster too far’
Post-Brexit trade deal negotiations between the UK and EU are continuing in Brussels amid reports progress could see a deal agreed this week. Pictured: The PM today
His comments did not go down well as tens of thousands of Britons have died from Covid-19 over the last seven months. Pictured: A patient receives the first of two injections with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in a surgery in Wolverhampton yesterday
Mr Mullins said: ‘The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged 2020 like nothing else since the Second World War, but I’d take a rerun of this current crisis over the lasting damage we’re about to inflict on ourselves with Brexit.
‘There is no doubt that Covid has done huge damage to the UK’s economy and taken countless lives.
‘But crucially the virus, which has hobbled all major world economies, came out of the blue.
Tory MP Craig Mackinlay said ‘likening lumps and bumps of Brexit with the Covid crisis’ is in ‘very poor taste’
‘Nobody asked for it and nobody thought it was a good idea. The same cannot be said for Brexit, which I think will bounce Boris out of Number 10.
‘We have vaccines riding to the rescue but what or who is going to save us from Brexit?
‘Certainly not our former European partners as they struggle to rebuild their own ravaged economies.
‘From the moment we voted to leave the European Union the promises have been unravelling; masses of money for the NHS; lucrative new markets around the world, and the lie of all lies – an easy to get trade deal with the EU.
‘I sincerely hope that Lord Frost and his team of negotiators manage to get a deal with the EU at the 11th hour because the one thing we all seem to agree on is that a ‘no deal’ scenario would be one disaster too far for the country to take just now.
‘Either way come January 1st when 70 million of us wake up on our islands we’ll be far worse off than the 446 million EU citizens who have stayed with their union.’
Tory MP Mr Mackinlay told MailOnline: ‘Might I recommend that Mr Mullins sticks with the successful business that he knows and helps deliver the Brexit result that the majority of the country wanted.
‘Likening any lumps and bumps of Brexit with the Covid crisis costing tens of thousands of people their lives, liberties curtailed and businesses destroyed I have to say is in very poor taste.’
Brexiteer MP Daniel Kawczynski (pictured) told MailOnline Mr Mullins’ words were a ‘deeply inaccurate, exceptionally insensitive and highly reprehensible thing to say’
Director of Get Britain Out Ms Adye said: ‘This statement from multi-millionaire staunch ”EU Remainer” Charlie Mullins, shows just how out of touch some people, especially in London, are.
‘Not only is Mr Mullins out of touch on the Pandemic, but also on Brexit.’
She continued: ‘To compare the legitimate and democratic decision by 17.4 million people in 2016 to leave the economic and political EU project, to the deaths of millions world-wide and the collapse of the entire global economy over this pandemic, shows a complete lack of empathy and sincerity.’
She added: ‘While the Pandemic may not have impacted the plumbing industry severely – with Mr Mullins own company’s revenues barely taking a hit this year, other businesses – especially those in hospitality – may never recover, with millions more jobs at risk come the end of Furlough.
‘No such threat is posed by Brexit whether we Leave with or without a trade deal.’
Who is Charlie Mullins?
He may be flashing the cash now, but Charlie Mullins came from humble beginnings.
Mullins grew up on a south London council estate and left school at 15 in 1969 with no qualifications, to take up a four-year apprenticeship in plumbing.
Six years later, he started Pimlico Plumbers from a central London basement, which has become such a success he is now worth around £70million.
Past clients have included former Prime Minister David Cameron and the former Chancellor George Osborne.
It’s not just through Pimlico Plumbers that Charlie flirts with the world of politics.
The Remainer was a key backer of the legal challenge to Brexit in November 2016, and appeared at the Royal Courts of Justice to appeal against Article 50.
The entrepreneur and Tory donor described Brexit supporters in Government as ‘busybodies’, and claimed any appeal to the Supreme Court would fail, adding: ‘We’re on a winning horse, and a jockey doesn’t get off a winning horse.’
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is said to have told diplomats the UK had moved towards the bloc’s demands on the level playing field, the Telegraph reports.
It said Mr Barnier told ambassadors the UK accepted a ‘rebalancing mechanism’, meaning it could face tariffs if it moves too far away from EU rules.
The Guardian reported European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said there had been ‘movement’ and talks were ‘on the very last mile’.
Negotiations between the two sides were extended on Sunday after Boris Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen agreed to continue the process despite major differences remaining.
Mr Barnier updated diplomats from the 27 EU states about the progress before resuming negotiations with his UK counterpart Lord Frost on Monday.
Negotiations will continue in the Belgian capital on Tuesday.
For months the talks have been deadlocked on the issues of fishing rights, the ‘level playing field’ to ensure neither side can unfairly compete with the other on environmental standards, workers’ rights or state subsidies, and the legal mechanisms to govern any deal.
Mr Barnier said the ‘next few days’ are important if a deal is to be in place for January 1.
‘It is our responsibility to give the talks every chance of success,’ he said.
‘Never before has such a comprehensive agreement (trade, energy, fisheries, transport, police and judicial co-operation etc) been negotiated so transparently and in such little time.’
A spokesman for the grouping of EU ambassadors said there is ‘full support for the resilient and persistent’ negotiating team led by Mr Barnier.
The UK’s current trading arrangements with the EU expire at the end of the month, meaning any new deal would have to be in place by January 1.
If not, tariffs and quotas will apply and bureaucracy will increase, causing further damage to an economy already ravaged by coronavirus.
The need for any deal to be approved by Parliament means talks cannot continue until New Year’s Eve, but MPs are braced for the prospect of sitting over the festive period.
It is not the first time Mr Mullins has sparked outrage during the crisis, with him branding those working from home ‘selfish’ despite speaking from his holiday home.
He also hit headlines in August after firing around 30 staff when they refused to return to work following the end of his company’s use of the furlough scheme.
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