Britain is “dangerously close to the full-scale disaster” of a no-deal Brexit, Sir Richard Branson has claimed in an open letter, accusing Theresa May of acting against the national interest.
The Virgin tycoon, who is not resident in the UK for tax purposes, said the economy had already sustained damage as a result of Brexit, warning a no-deal scenario would trigger a “multi-generational disaster”.
He called for a public vote giving people the chance to choose between a range of options on what the UK’s future relationship with the EU should be.
“This is a moment of profound national crisis for the UK,” said the billionaire, who was revealed in 2016 to be helping fund a group fighting to stop Brexit.
“Prioritising party over country, the prime minister is no longer acting in the national interest. Instead, she has decided to pitch herself as the defender of the ‘people’ against the machinations of parliament.
“By limiting the MPs’ choice yet again to one between her own deal and no deal at all, she is placing a dangerous bet,” Branson wrote.
Branson, who is worth £4.5bn thanks to his investments in air, rail, finance and leisure, said preparations for Brexit and the uncertainty around what form it would take had already cost the economy “billions”.
“Thousands of jobs in Britain have been lost already, with many more redundancies on the horizon as manufacturers react to the looming threat of tariffs and supply chain disruptions.
“More than a trillion pounds in assets are being moved to Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris, and other European cities as financial institutions begin to execute their contingency plans.
“And Brexit preparations alone have eaten up billions that could have been spent elsewhere.
“These consequences are real and tangible. They affect people everywhere across the UK. They affect investment in the UK, the nation’s ability to trade goods and services, to travel, to jointly tackle global challenges, from climate change to terrorism.”
He said the British electorate should be given a final say on Brexit, with all options left on the table, because their views might have changed since the referendum.
Branson added that if people were not given a final say, the government should revoke article 50 and restart the Brexit process.
“There is little time to avoid a multi-generational disaster,” he concluded.