A no-deal Brexit would be a “full-scale disaster” for the UK, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson has warned.

Describing the situation as a “moment of profound national crisis”, he attacked prime minister Theresa May.

“Prioritising party over country, the prime minister is no longer acting in the national interest,” the billionaire founder of Virgin Atlantic said.

“Instead, she has decided to pitch herself as the defender of the ‘people’ against the machinations of Parliament. By limiting the MPs’ choice yet again to one between her own deal and no deal at all, she is placing a dangerous bet.”

Despite a delay in Brexit, Sir Richard called on the government to “put all options on the table, and giving the people a final say must be one of these options”.

He added: “If it is not, there is only one alternative – a clear decision by Parliament to require the government to revoke Article 50 and start the process again from scratch, armed with the facts. There is little time to avoid a multi-generational disaster.”

Warning that the UK may crash out of the EU without a deal as early as April 12, he said: “I fear the UK is still dangerously close to the full-scale disaster that a no-deal exit from the European Union would be.

“The time for the UK government to rethink its approach is now.

“At this juncture, it seems implausible that another motion to vote on the withdrawal agreement would actually win majority Parliamentary support.

“And even with an extended Brexit deadline, that’s a major risk to the UK, and to the Union itself.

“This is a moment of profound national crisis for the UK. Yet there is no sign of the inclusive leadership such a crisis requires.”

 

Sir Richard claimed that “evidence tells us that few, if any, of the original assumptions about leaving the EU were correct nearly three years after the 2016 referendum.

“Thousands of jobs in Britain have been lost already, with many more redundancies 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. And Brexit preparations alone have eaten up billions that could have been spent elsewhere.

“These consequences are real and tangible. They affect people everywhere across the UK. They affect investment in the UK, the nation’s ability to trade goods and services, to travel, to jointly tackle global challenges, from climate change to terrorism.

“At the very least, these consequences should afford MPs an opportunity to determine whether this is really what the UK people wanted in 2016 and whether it’s time to give them a final say.

“Instead, MPs are now being forced into endorsing what cannot even be described as the best option among a bad lot.

“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.”