WPP chief and Remain campaigner Martin Sorrell wants second EU vote

William Turvill
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Sir Martin Sorrell, who founded advertising giant WPP in 1985, was a Remain supporter (Source: Getty)

Sir Martin Sorrell, the founder and chief executive of advertising giant WPP, wants the British public to be offered a second vote on EU membership after Brexit terms have been negotiated.

Sorrell, who campaigned for Remain in the run-up to the EU referendum, told City A.M.: “I still hold out the hope that sense will prevail.”

From a business point-of-view, he – along with other City figures – has called for Brexit negotiations to be swift to dispel business uncertainty.

Read more: WPP FTSE risers after strong results - but Sorrell's still worried

But Sorrell said he is “conflicted” because of his own anti-Brexit views.

He noted that Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith has committed to a second EU vote and Sorrell said he thought this is possible, either as a second referendum or as part of the 2020 general election.

He added: “What I’d like to see, given where we are, is if we go through this process – which I think is the likely process, a two to three year process – and we finally see what the terms are of Brexit, then the electorate can be asked to reconfirm in whichever way possible, referendum or general election platform, that they still want to go ahead.”

On his business view, Sorrell said: “I think the key issue is, what business wants, and therefore we want, is certainty. Because the uncertainty makes life very difficult. It’s the enemy of growth, the enemy of investment, so self-defeating.

Read more: WPP's Sorrell targets expansion in rest of Europe ahead of UK after Brexit

“From a government point-of-view, I think they probably need more time because we outsourced trade negotiations for the last 10 years to Brussels, so we have to build that department.

“The role of Brexit is split between three ministers and ministries – Fox, Davis and Johnson. And if you believe the stuff you read in the press they’re already fighting with one another – and they haven’t even got the process in place. So it’s a very, very difficult situation.”

He added: “What I’m expressing is a view that business generally would like certainty and therefore the whole situation resolved – they don’t want two years or three years of uncertainty. But unfortunately that’s probably what’s going to happen.”

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