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Conservative Deputy Chair Jonathan Gullis Took £10,000 From JCB – Then Stayed Silent Over Company’s job Loss Announcement 

The MP for Stoke-on-Trent North didn’t comment on potential job cuts at the digger giant but called an “urgent” meeting with the Business Secretary over the closure of Johnson Tiles amid claims his “silence was bought”

Conservative Party deputy chairman Jonathan Gullis pictured above attending a meeting at 10 Downing Street in May 2023. Photo: Amanda Rose / Alamy
Conservative Party deputy chairman Jonathan Gullis pictured above attending a meeting at 10 Downing Street in May 2023. Photo: Amanda Rose / Alamy

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Conservative Party deputy chairman Jonathan Gullis took a five-figure donation from JCB – and then stayed silent when the digger giant said two weeks later it was shutting one of its bases in his constituency with the loss of up to 200 jobs.

The MP for Stoke-on-Trent North’s failure to comment on the plan by JCB – owned by Sir Anthony Bamford, a major Conservative donor – is in direct contrast to his reaction to Johnson Tiles closing its factory in the area, which will see 105 jobs cut.  

Gullis described the Johnson Tiles news as “sad” and, on the same day as the JCB announcement, attended an “urgent” meeting he had arranged with Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, over the state of the ceramics industry.

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One of Gullis’s constituents, who declined to be named, told Byline Times: “It’s gobsmacking – weeks before the election, JCB suggests up to 200 jobs could go, yet our MP is silent, having taken money from the company. 

“Yet he was very prominent in his opposition to the Johnson Tiles closure which, as sad as that also is for the area, sees fewer jobs at risk.”

The constituent went on to suggest that it “feels like JCB bought his silence. What happened to standing up for us and being our ‘voice’?

“Who matters to the Tories, is it hard-working people or is it the mega-rich? This stinks and Jonathan needs to return the donation immediately and apologise to the 200 local people he’s abandoned.”

Gullis failed to return a request for comment. 

Byline Times on Thursday reported how Gullis was accused by Labour of “lying” about his relationship with convicted drugs boss Yasser Hussain, who was once jailed for being the ringleader of a heroin gang and is now a long-standing and prominent Conservative activist in Stoke. 

EXCLUSIVE

Tory Deputy Chairman Jonathan Gullis Accused of ‘Lying’ Over Party’s Association With Convicted Drug Boss

Labour said Byline Times’ findings suggested claims Hussain was not linked to the Tory Party were a “lie”

The former teacher, 34, is anticipated to lose his seat – which he unexpectedly won in 2019 as part of the Conservative ‘Red Wall’ – in the General Election.

According to the parliamentary register of interests, on 19 April, Gullis received £10,000 from Uttoxeter-based multinational construction manufacturing firm JC Bamford (JCB) Excavators Ltd.

A fortnight later, on 3 May, it emerged that up to 200 workers were facing uncertainty amid JCB’s plans to close its World Logistics site in Tunstall, one of two major settlements that make up Stoke-on-Trent North.

While Gullis stayed silent on the JCB job cuts, he arranged a meeting with Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch after the Jonathan Tiles news was announced. Photo: Ian Davidson / Alamy

One worker told StokeonTrentLive: “The closure will affect around 150 to 200 shop-floor workers [who] have been told their jobs will effectively be gone by the end of the year.” A second added to the outlet: “We’ve all lost our jobs. Everyone is gutted.”

In the month since Gullis has failed to make any comment about the potential job cuts. 

On X, formerly Twitter, Paul Sherratt wrote: “Jonathan Gullis received £10,000 from JCB in mid-April. 

“[In] early May JCB announce[s the] closure of their enormous World Logistics warehouse (around 2 miles from the Stoke North MP’s office). Complete radio silence from Gullis.”

When Johnson Tiles announced it was expected to shut its Tunstall factory this summer following a management buyout deal with parent company Norcros, Gullis did an interview revealing he was working with the Department for Work and Pensions to try to help workers who will be affected.

He said on 26 April: “It is very sad that Johnson Tiles will no longer manufacture its products in Stoke-on-Trent. My immediate thoughts are with those who will sadly be impacted by the decision. 

“My team and I are working with the Department of Work and Pensions to support people find new jobs locally, and we are requesting an urgent roundtable with the Secretary of State for Business & Trade with Ceramics UK, its members, and all local MPs to discuss how we can better support our world-leading ceramics manufacturers going forward.”

A week later on 3 May, the day JCB announced news of its World Logistics HQ closure, Gullis attended a meeting with Badenoch, at which Johnson Tiles managing director Stephen Dixon was present.

Gullis said: “I was pleased we could get an urgent meeting with the secretary of state to talk about the sad news that Johnson Tiles will no longer manufacture its products in the Potteries. 

“I’m confident that the secretary of state will have taken the thoughts of Stephen and others from the ceramics industry on board to ensure the Government can do all they can to support one of the leading industries in the Potteries.”

Byline Times asked Gullis and JCB a series of questions including what the £10,000 donation was for, whether the donation was linked to the news of the closure of JCB’s World Logistics site in Tunstall, and whether JCB’s plan to close the site was known about by Gullis or discussed when he was offered and accepted the donation.

Gullis was also asked why his reaction to the closure of Johnsons Tiles was so different to his silence over the JCB closure, and whether JCB had “bought [his] silence”.

The MP had not responded by the time of publication.

Nigel Chell, spokesman for JCB, said the World Logistics move was required as it had outgrown its Tunstall base, adding: “World Logistics is operated by our logistics partners and they are working closely with employees and the GMB Union to discuss redeployment opportunities.”

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Mr Chell also pointed out that, while “quite a proportion” of the land around the Logistics World was in Stoke-on-Trent, the Logistics World site was not in the Stoke-on-Trent North constituency. 

However, according to a search tool on Gullis’s website, the postcode to which the JCB site relates does fall under the Stoke-on-Trent North constituency. 

The constituent added to Byline Times: “The site is in Tunstall, which is firmly in Jonathan’s constituency. Mr Chell is splitting hairs.”

Mr Chell twice declined to answer questions regarding whether the company’s donation to Gullis was in any way connected to the news of the closure of JCB’s World Logistics site.



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