One of Britain’s most eminent and successful inventors and entrepreneurs has said the UK should leave the European Union (EU) quickly and negotiate trade deals later.
Sir James Dyson, the creator of Dyson vacuum cleaners, said he was “delighted to be out and don’t think we have to negotiate anything”.
When asked how Brexit negotiation will play out, he told the Telegraph: “I know exactly what I would do if I was running the country. I would leave and then, over a period of time, I would negotiate things.”
The Prime Minister has said she will not invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty – the mechanism for leaving the EU – until 2017, claiming she needs more time to prepare for negotiations.
The cabinet is split on whether or not to stay within the single market – which means accepting EU rules – and how to go about forming new trade agreements.
“They are going to want to have a free trade deal with us more than the other way round,” said Mr. Dyson. “The imbalance of trade is £100bn so, even if we have to pay an import duty, it’s not much and it’s far less than currency swings.”
The billionaire also mocked the idea that the EU is truly a single market. “It is not. There are different languages, boxes, plugs, marketing and so on, different psychology, different laws. There’s a lot of cost involved.”
According to the Sunday Times Rich List 2016, Mr. Dysone’s net worth is £5 billion and he employs more than 7000 people, around half of them here in the UK.
Despite initially supporting the UK joining the Euro, he began to change his mind in after a series of run-ins with EU regulation and in 2014 slammed the block for being “dominated and bullied by the Germans”.
He backed the Brexit campaign this year, and reflected on it, he said: “I thought it would be very close… But I had absolutely no idea. In a way, I thought I was supporting the losing side, but I thought our arguments were better – and ultimately I was proved right.”
The Brexit vote, however, was about much more than hard economics, Mr. Dyson suggested.
“Sovereignty is the most important reason,” he also said. “And I would say that, wouldn’t I? I started my own business. I wanted to be independent as a business. I don’t want to be part of a conglomerate.
“I see huge strength in independence, making your own decisions and choosing the people who run your own enterprise. Being subservient to Europe, having to do what Europe says, is entirely not in this country’s interest.”