Tory MP Bemoans Bishops 'Using The Pulpit To Preach From'

Jonathan Gullis faces online ridicule.
Jonathan Gullis, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North.
Jonathan Gullis, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North.
Leon Neal via Getty Images

A Tory MP has been ridiculed for suggesting bishops shouldn’t be “using the pulpit to preach from” in a bizarre attack on the Church of England.

Jonathan Gullis hit out at senior members of the clergy as he defended the UK government’s policy to “offshore” the processing of asylum seekers to Rwanda.

It came as the controversial Conservative deportation plan was ruled lawful in the High Court.

Several challenges were brought against the proposals announced by then-home secretary Priti Patel in April.

The first deportation flight – due to take off on June 14 – was then grounded amid a series of objections against individual removals and the policy as a whole.

However, at the High Court in London on Monday, senior judges rejected arguments that the plans to provide one-way tickets to the east African nation were unlawful.

Ahead of the first scheduled flight, 23 senior Church of England bishops, including the archbishops of Canterbury and York, criticised the plan for lacking morality.

When appearing on BBC Radio 4′s World at One programme on Monday defending the policy, Gullis was confronted with their words.

Presenter Sarah Montague quoted the letter that described the policy as “one that should shame us as a nation”.

She added: “They all signed a letter saying that ‘the shame is our own because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice. As we have for centuries’. How do you respond to that?”

Gullis replied: “I don’t think unelected bishops in the House of Lords should be preaching about politics.

“I think they should be looking in-house at the wide abuse claims, and the Archbishop of Canterbury should be spending his time focusing on the Church’s reputation.

“I sadly think that there are too many people using the pulpit to preach from, and actually I think they’re out of touch with the overall majority of this great country.”

The letter added vulnerable people should be offered safe routes to the UK and not deported: “This immoral policy shames Britain.”

It was also signed by the bishops of London, Durham, Exeter, Birmingham and Manchester.


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