A major Tory donor known as “David Cameron’s favourite plumber” has announced that he’s defected to the Lib Dems in a bid to stop Brexit.

Pimlico Plumbers director Charlie Mullins gave the Tories almost £65,000 between 2015 and 2017 – including three donations worth £16,250 before and after last year’s general election.

His personal website includes photos of him with Theresa May, Boris Johnson, George Osborne and David Cameron, who took advice from Mullins on business issues as Prime Minister.

The millionaire was given an OBE under Cameron and was a regular at the Black and White Ball fundraiser for the Tories’ richest donors.

But relations between the stridently pro-EU Mullins and the Tories soured last year after he criticised Theresa May’s approach to Brexit.

Mullins revealed in December that he had been banned from this year’s Black and White Ball as a consequence of his comments.

And now he’s revealed he has agree to bankroll the Lib Dems in the hope of stopping of Brexit. Speaking on Sky News today, he said:

“I’m up for reversing Brexit. I’m not going to beat about the bush. 

“I’ve just totted up with Vince Cable and the Lib Dems and I’m going to financially support it and do the best I can to stop Britain going into disaster.”

Mullins published a blog on his website today claiming that Brexit is the underlying cause of recent high street job losses. He writes:

“It is evident to see that Brexit is crippling our retail industry and this is why I’ve joined Vince Cable in pushing for a second referendum by the end of this year! It’s a complete no-brainer!”

And yesterday he revealed he had met Cable and Lib Dem Brexit spokesman Tom Brake at Westminster to “hatch a plan for a second referendum.”

Mullins support will undoubtedly be good for the bank balance of the Lib Dems, who received roughly a sixth of the amount given to the Tories in the final quarter of 2017, according to the latest donation figures.

But it will also be controversial because of the millionaire’s record on workers’ rights.

Mullins said it was “absolutely disgraceful” when the Unison trade union won a landmark Surpreme Court battle against tribunal fees that prevent workers upholding their rights.

And he’s currently waiting to hear the result of his own Supreme Court challenge to a ruling about one of his former staff that could prove vital for the rights of workers in the gig economy.

Mullins has avoided paying millions of pounds in national insurance contributions by employing staff as self-employed contractors. That also means they don’t receive sick pay or holiday pay.

A tribunal found in 2012 that one of Mullins’ plumbers, Gary Smith, should have been considered a worker and received all the rights that come with that.

Mullins has been challenging the ruling for the past 5 years. After his last unsuccessful court battle, the GMB union said:

“While these plumbers are making Charlie Mullins even more millions he needs to get his house in order and start respecting basic workers’ rights.”

Mullins also wrote yesterday that a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn would be as “disastrous” as Brexit.

A Lib Dem spokesperson told Scrapbook:

“As Charlie Mullins said on Sky News, he has committed to donating to the Liberal Democrats’ campaign to stop Brexit. The Liberal Democrats are the only party committed to giving the people a say on the final Brexit deal, including the option to remain in the EU.

“We welcome Charlie on board as a fellow traveller, committed to reversing Brexit.”

There’s no doubt the Tory’s electoral coalition is falling appart over Brexit. But should the Lib Dems be welcoming the likes of Mullins?

MORE: Businessman moaning about tribunal fees decision is a millionaire Tory donor who lost a landmark legal battle


  2. Dave Williams says:

    Hope he has read the Preamble to the Libdem Constitution setting out their values, but I doubt it.
    Looking at his political history I would think a political Damascene conversion would be required before he should be allowed to join.
    Don’t like his comments about Tribunal fees for a start. Completely contrary to Libdem Policy.

  3. Right now, I’m happy the Lib Dems are getting some cash to keep fighting the good fight. It’s also good for the Tories to see their supporters voting with their feet.

  4. His financial support to the Liberal Democrsts over pro remain makes alot of sense. To offer an effective pro remain position takes money. He has not said he supports other Lib Dem values … BUT brexit is the number one … 🙂


    You can buy a Caps Lock key though.

  6. No-one should welcome Charlie Mullins on board. He is an odious, foul-mouthed excuse for a man – remember him calling Jeremy Corbyn “a twat” on Radio 4? Very classy. Made his millions off the back of abusing workers’ rights. Went ballistic when he lost a tribunal decision and when the decision was taken to abolish tribunal fees. If I was a LibDem, I’d be urging the leadership to tell him to stick his money where the sun don’t shine.

  7. No way does this man represent the values of LDs. He’s all about self and sees LDs as a way to increase his personal gain

  8. Jackie Conway says:

    He is clearly an unpleasant man, but I like the fact that the Tories will now lose his money.

  9. Right now, we need all the help we can get to avoid the UK committing national suicide. So the Liberal Party should be congratulated for being pragmatic and allowing Charlie Mullins to defect from the Tories. Who knows, when we’ve defeated Brexit, maybe Charlie will grow up and get a conscience. Or maybe the law will catch up with him. Either way, we all win.

  10. Think this shows that Vince Cable has lost all semblance of decency and sold out his former views by excusing this Tory slimeball’s previous record on workers rights. Used to have respect for Cable but no more. Sad to see a previous man of principle sell out those principles for a political donation.

  11. Wow Charlie boy — what’s brought about this sudden change of allegiance to your Tory bed pals?
    Could it be that you are employing Polish plumbers and ripping them off by paying them the absolute minimum with no security of employment rights?
    Maybe it’s because you expect and envisage( correctly) a huge hike in raw material costs as a consequence of tariffs in the event of your once darling Tory buddies getting their stopcock locked closed because they are proving they could not run a tap,even less serious negotiations that will have dire consequences on workers rights ( things close to your cheque book according to your rantings and battling with the judiciary)
    Should the liberals show some regard for your anti union and total disregard for your workers welfare you may find your self cast out on the raft of anonymity- don’t forget the Sealegs — I have my own because your type make me vomit

  12. I have always found that business owners respond to two things. The right thing for any business is to minimise cost within the law or you can’t compete. In a level playing field that applies to all competitors price can rise to accommodate better outcomes for workers. A happier workforce makes more money. Conservative race to the bottom worker rights bonfire plans will need to be replaced. We’ve seen it before this yo-yo. The EU eliminates it and Mullins may yet become the good guy in Vince’s hands. The whole gamut of EU working directive can be adopted only if a LibDem government is elected. That will work better for profits for shareholders and pensioners in company schemes, better for the workforce, safer for road users as workers won’t drive tired. No losers. Just the Conservatives. Which party do you donate to?

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