Richard Branson calls for Britain to strike Swiss-style deal with EU

Richard Branson laments lack of growth across Britain

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Richard Branson has called for the UK to “urgently” strike a Swiss-style deal with the EU. The Virgin boss, an arch-Remainer, claimed Brexit Britain is not a good place to do business or invest.

The billionaire businessman insisted the UK needs to slash trade barriers and red tape in order to “flourish”.

He urged for an arrangement with Brussels similar to Switzerland, which has to pay into the bloc’s budget, accept freedom of movement and follow some EU rules in exchange for access to the single market.

Mr Branson told LBC: “We have a lot of Virgin companies in Britain. I think as far as new money’s concerned, we would not necessarily invest new money in Britain at the moment.

“We’re more likely to invest it in America or some other countries.

“I’ve made it no secret of my views on Brexit both before and after Britain’s referendum.

“And I think what the Government needs to do is to urgently seek a mutually beneficial relationship with the EU – it’s the world’s largest trading bloc – it needs to be at least similar to the deal Switzerland has.

“For the people of Britain and companies in Britain to flourish, Britain needs to reduce its trade barriers and reduce its red tape.

“I’m afraid Brexit’s costing Britain something like two percent GDP per year.

“When you compound that onto the other problems that Britain currently has it’s devastating and it has resulted in Britain becoming the poorest country as far as growth is concerned almost in the world.

“It really is sad to see.”

Mr Branson’s comments come after Rishi Sunak last month ruled out a Swiss-style deal with the EU.

The Prime Minister had been reacting to reports the Government was considering the move, which had sparked alarm among Brexiteers.

In a speech at the CBI conference, the PM said: “I voted for Brexit, I believe in Brexit.

“I know that Brexit can deliver, and is already delivering, enormous benefits and opportunities for the country.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also dismissed the prospect of rejoining the EU single market in his speech at the CBI conference in November, but said the current trade deal was not “working well”.

Sir Keir told business chiefs: “We are not going back to the EU. That means not going back into the single market or customs union.

“But we have to make Brexit work, the deal the Government has got us is not working well. It’s holding business back, it’s holding growth back.”

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