Sir Richard Branson has been accused of ‘rank hypocrisy’ for campaigning to thwart Britain’s exit from the European Union whilst his airline is pushing a ‘Bright Side of Brexit’ ad campaign to drum up business abroad.
The Necker Island-based billionaire is a long-time EU enthusiast, arguing for Britain to join the euro as recently as 2015, and calling for a rerun of the 2016 referendum. Most recently, he helped to bankroll the anti-Brexit Best for Britain campaign launched by Gina Miller, the millionaire financier and political activist who was inspired by Fidel Castro.
Billionaire Branson wants a do-over, a second referendum "based on real facts."
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) March 23, 2017
In the U.S., however, his Virgin Atlantic airline is hailing Brexit as a “fabulous time for Americans to visit the UK”, thanks in large part to the cheaper pound.
The Sun newspaper reports the 60-second advert shows a tourist being welcomed to a traditional pub by a town crier and a British bulldog, able to buy four pints for the price of three and getting a round in for patrons with all his savings.
Virgin has even launched a special Brexit calculator, showing U.S. citizens how much they might expect to save on everything from fish and chips to a first edition of A Tale of Two Cities.
Jenna Lloyd, Virgin Atlantic’s head of marketing, said that the corporation “recognised that when Brexit was announced at the end of last year that – from an airline’s perspective – it represented both a challenge and an opportunity”.
— The Spectator (@spectator) November 23, 2016
The airline is rolling out similar ad campaigns and calculators in India, the United Arab Emirates, and both Hong Kong and mainland China.
Brexit minister David Davis said the move “goes to show the rank hypocrisy of millionaire businessmen like Sir Richard Branson”.
“They are continually trying to talk up scare stories surrounding Brexit – but at the same time playing on its advantages,” he added.