Sir Richard Branson has ruled out investing new cash in the UK for the foreseeable future, claiming the economy has been hamstrung by trade barriers and “red tape” brought on by Brexit.
The Virgin tycoon, who founded his business empire as a record shop in London in 1970, said the company was looking elsewhere to invest its cash due to the cocktail of economic pressures battering the UK economy.
“”As far as new money’s concerned, we would not necessarily invest new money in Britain at the moment,” he told Tom Swarbrick on LBC. “We’re more likely to invest in America or in some other countries.”
Branson was a vocal supporter of the campaign to remain in Europe prior to the referendum in 2016 and claimed today that ministers should strike a Swiss-style deal to ease the flow of trade in future.
“I think what the government needs to do is to urgently seek a mutually beneficially relationship with the EU – it’s the world’s largest trading bloc – it needs to be at least similar to the deal Switzerland has.”
Such an arrangement would see the UK fall in line with the EU on food and agricultural standards and would slash the checks on goods between the UK and the bloc. Suggestions of a Swiss-style deal have recently been rubbished by ministers however, after backlash from hardline Eurosceptics in the Tory party.
Branson claimed the current arrangement was a fundamental blockage to growth.
”For the people of Britain and companies in Britain to flourish, Britain needs to reduce its trade barriers and reduce its red tape,” he said.
Assessments from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility said last month that evidence suggests Brexit has had a “significant adverse impact on UK trade, via reducing both overall trade volumes and the number of trading relationships between UK and EU firms.”
Trade and slowing global economic growth had also hampered trade to the UK, the OBR said.