LONDON (REUTERS) - Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group, said on Tuesday the company had lost about a third of its value since last week's vote by Britons to leave the European Union, adding he believed the country was heading towards a disaster.
Mr Branson said Britain would fall into recession and that there should be a second vote now that people could see the implications of what exiting the bloc would have on the economy. "This country is going to go into recession. Two of the worst days ever - banks have been pounded means they are not going to lend money, we're going to go into recession," he told the 'Good Morning Britain' TV programme. "We are heading towards a disaster. I don't believe the public realised what a mess their vote would cost."
The billionaire entrepreneur said his airline-through-finance group had cancelled a "very big" deal since the vote which would have involved some 3,000 jobs. "We're not any worse than anybody else but I suspect we've lost a third of our value," he said.
Mr Branson called for a second EU membership referendum, saying he believed the public had not been given the true facts by those backing Brexit.
"When Brexiters told the public that people were exaggerating there would be a financial meltdown I think it's been proven they were not exaggerating," he said. "I think one of the reasons why there should be a second referendum, particularly once the terms are known about what our entry into Europe is going to cost us, the public will then have all the facts."
In separate comments to the Guardian newspaper, he said he had met a group of Chinese businessmen who had invested heavily in England, but who would now stop future investment plans and withdraw those they had already made. "Business people do not want politicians to completely and utterly wreck the hard work they've done for years and years and that is effectively what happened," he told the paper.
"Thousands and thousands of jobs will be lost as a result of this. Thousands of jobs that would have been created will be lost and the knock-on effect will be so dire."