Michael Bloomberg says Brexit is the most stupid thing any country has ever done… apart from elect Donald Trump.
The media mogul and former New York mayor said the UK’s decision to leave the EU is the ‘single stupidest thing any country has ever done’, apart from Mr Trump’s election as US president.
The newspaper said Mr Bloomberg initially made the remarks at a technology conference in Boston two weeks ago. He was in London this week to open a new European headquarters for his media empire.
He said ‘maybe I wouldn’t have’ opened a HQ in London if he had known the UK was going to quit the European Union.
‘My former wife was a Brit, my daughters have British passports, so we love England – it’s the father of our country, I suppose,’ Mr Bloomberg told the Guardian.
‘But what they are doing is not good and there is no easy way to get out of it because if they don’t pay a penalty, everyone else would drop out. So they can’t get as good of a deal as they had before.”
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‘I did say that I thought it was the single stupidest thing any country has ever done but then we Trumped it.’
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Mr Bloomberg, 75, said ‘it is really hard to understand why a country that was doing so well wanted to ruin it’ with the Brexit vote.
The Guardian said that during the HUBweek conference in Boston, Mr Bloomberg warned that workers at his financial media company had asked to leave the UK and the US because they feel those countries are no longer welcoming to immigrants.
He added: ‘We are opening a brand new European headquarters in London – two big, expensive buildings. Would I have done it if I knew they were going to drop out?
‘I’ve had some thoughts that maybe I wouldn’t have, but we are there, we are going to be very happy.’
Mr Bloomberg’s company employs 4,000 people in the UK and 20,000 worldwide.
‘One of the things that is hurting us both in the United States and in the UK is that we have employees, not a lot but some, who are starting to say: “I don’t want to work here – can we transfer to some place else? This country doesn’t like immigrants”.
‘All this talk in Washington – words have consequences. Whether we change the immigration laws or not, there is general feeling around the world that America is no longer an open, welcoming place and a lot of people don’t want to go there, and the same thing is happening in the UK because of Brexit.’
But if Mr Bloomberg says Brexit was a ‘stupid’ decision, recent polling doesn’t indicate that many people regret making it.
A poll at the weekend by Opinium showed that both Leave and Remain voters largely stand by their respective choices.
While 49% of people in the UK disapprove of prime minister Theresa May’s handling of Brexit, but 88% of Leavers say they would vote the same way if given the chance.
Of the Remainers, 91% say they would vote the same way again if another referendum was held.
But a third of voters say they are more pessimistic about Brexit than they were at the time of the referendum in June 2016, while only a fifth think the British government will secure a satisfactory deal with the EU.
Among Leave voters, 62% say the UK should leave the EU if a deal cannot be brokered.