Sir Richard Branson has urged politicians to re-think whether Britain should leave the European Union, despite the results of the referendum.
Sir Richard was a prominent supporter of Britain remaining in the EU and, ahead of the referendum, warned a Leave vote could be “very damaging” to the UK.
On Friday, upon hearing 52 per cent has voted to leave the Union, Sir Richard said it was a “sad decision that will do enormous damage to both Britain’s economy and Europe’s stability”.
On Monday, the Virgin founder furthered his opposition to leaving the EU in a blog post and encouraged readers to sign the petition calling for a second referendum.
In the post, he accused the Leave campaign of "repeatedly" misleading voters which he says, in turn, resulted in “Leave voters across the UK realising that they have opened a Pandora’s Box of negative consequences”.
Sir Richard then lists what he determines as those negative consequences, including the pound plummeting to a 31-year low, the admission from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland may soon seek a second independence referendum and claiming the “UK markets lost more money in one day than the country paid into the EU since we joined it many years ago” .
The 65-year-old also said that in just the few days which have passed since the result, the consequences upon the UK's economy and society are already being felt.
“The decision over the UK’s future was based on false promises that pushed a minority of the UK’s total voting population (17 million out of 46 million) to vote the way it did,” he wrote. “Two years before Brexit will even become a reality, according to EU rules, it is already having massive consequences on the UK economy, and on society. Brexit has fractured the country more than any other event in recent memory.”
Sir Richard also said the call for a second referendum, which has already amassed over three million signatures since Friday, need to be taken seriously.
“Based on the misrepresentation made by the Leave campaign, Parliament needs to take the petition of more than three million people to call for a new referendum seriously. The alternative is to watch a rapid decline of Britain’s health and wellbeing,” he wrote.
“The vast majority of MPs voted in by the electorate want the UK to stay part of Europe. In light of the misrepresentations of the Leave campaign, Parliament should reject the results of this non-binding referendum as Nicola Sturgeon has announced she will do in Scotland's Parliament," he wrote. "Before the UK government invokes Article 50 of the European Treaty and does irreversible damage to the United Kingdom, the people's elected representatives must decide whether the facts that have emerged really warrant abandoning the EU and whether a second referendum will be needed,” he wrote.
Earlier on Monday, David Cameron dismissed the suggestion of a second referendum. A spokesperson said holding a referendum was not “remotely on the cards” despite the petition.
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