Richard Branson warns pound will plummet in no-deal Brexit

Richard Branson

A no-deal Brexit would cause the pound to plummet and be worth the same as the dollar, Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson has said.

This would be “devastating” for Virgin, and force the group to shift investment out of the UK, he said.

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner in the Tory leadership race, has refused to rule out suspending parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit.

But Sir Richard told the BBC that the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal would cause the pound to slump.

“The pound was at $1.53 when the referendum took place. The pound today it is at $1.22, $1.23, and the pound will collapse to parity [one for one] with the dollar if there is a hard Brexit,” he said.

The businessman, whose portfolio includes airlines, financial services and media companies, expects big losses for all his UK interests, saying it would be “devastating for many Virgin companies”.

“It obviously is going to result in us spending a lot less money in Britain, and just putting all our energies into other countries” he added.

Sterling pressures

Sir Richard warned in December that the UK would be left “near bankrupt” if there was a hard Brexit.



He told the BBC at the time that he was “absolutely certain” that leaving the EU without a deal would lead to the closure of “quite a few British businesses”.

Virgin Atlantic, the group’s major airline, has, according to Sir Richard, already suffered substantial loses since the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, due to the drop in the pound against the dollar.

“All our costs are in dollars. Maintenance, plane costs, pretty well every cost is in dollars. And therefore, the bottom line hit of that was £100m a year, say,” he said.

A hard Brexit would mean airfreight from Europe to the US would just disappear, he says, “so that would be another £100m just down the drain”.

“And I can carry on. There’s an enormous list when you look at each Virgin company.”

Sterling has had a tough week, falling to its lowest point in two years.

It dropped below $1.25 after succumbing to political and economic pressures.