Richard Branson calls for new Brexit vote

UK 'close to the full-scale disaster,' he says

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Richard Branson

Virgin Airlines chairman Richard Branson is joining the call for a new popular vote on Brexit.

Branson wrote a blog post on Virgin's web site saying that the United Kingdom "is still dangerously close to the full-scale disaster" of a no-deal Brexit. Parliament is due to hold several votes this week on a proposed Brexit deal that it has already rejected twice.

He believes the best solution to the parliamentary deadlock on the question is to have a new popular vote, a vote he believes would show that the public now opposes the idea of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union.

"The truth is that the people's views are never static. They evolve. And they can change. I am not alone in feeling many UK people have changed their minds," he wrote. "The UK Government must now put all options on the table, and giving the people a final say must be one of these options."

Branson's blog post went up on Friday, the day before hundreds of thousands of marchers filled the streets of London calling for a new vote. So far Prime Minister Theresa May has flatly rejected the idea of a new vote. But on Sunday Chancellor Philip Hammond, one of her most senior Cabinet ministers, said that the idea of a new vote was a "coherent proposition" that deserves consideration, although he said he doubted it could get a majority of votes in Parliament.

Like many business leaders in the United Kingdom, Branson has been a long-time opponent of Brexit. Before the original vote he called the idea of Brexit "pretty catastrophic for long-term future of Great Britain" and a "financial disaster."

He repeated some of those business arguments against Brexit in his most recent blog post.

"Nearly three years after the 2016 referendum, that evidence tells us that few, if any, of the original assumptions about leaving the EU were correct," he wrote. "Thousands of jobs in Britain have been lost already, with many more redundancies [job cuts] 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."

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