More than 70 business leaders have joined calls for a second Brexit referendum.
Waterstones chief executive James Daunt, ex-Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King, Lastminute.com founder Baroness Lane-Fox and Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed are among those who have signed a letter calling for a People’s Vote on leaving the European Union.
The letter, published by the Sunday Times, warns that the Government’s current plans for Brexit, and a no-deal Brexit, would leave the country worse off than if it remains in the EU.
The signatories – all acting in personal capacities – come from various different areas of commerce, including finance, retail, and food and drink and also include Cobra Beer founder Lord Bilimoria, former Marks and Spencer chairman and ex-Labour peer Lord Myners, Alex Chesterman, founder of the Zoopla property website, and Sir Simon Robertson, the ex-chairman of Rolls-Royce.
The letter says: “The business community was promised that, if the country voted to leave, there would continue to be frictionless trade with the EU and the certainty about future relations that we need to invest for the long term.
“Despite the Prime Minister’s best efforts, the proposals being discussed by the Government and the European Commission fall far short of this, and they are not nearly as good as the current deal we have inside the EU.
“The uncertainty over the past two years has already led to a slump in investment, which will make our country poorer.
“We are now facing either a blindfold or a destructive hard Brexit. Both these options will further depress investment. They will be bad for business and bad for working people. Given that neither was on the ballot in 2016, we believe the ultimate choice should be handed back to the public with a People’s Vote.”
The business leaders are the latest group to call for a second referendum, with an estimated half a million people joining a rally in London demanding a fresh referendum a fortnight ago.
The letter also comes as former prime minister Tony Blair wrote in the Observer that MPs should “resist” agreeing to what may be labelled a “reasonable deal”, adding: “There is the pointless, the painful or fudge through postponement of the core issues. Each option is bad.
“MPs should vote it down and give the people the final say.”
A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: “The people of the United Kingdom have already had their say in one of the biggest democratic exercises this country has ever seen and the Prime Minister has made it clear that there is not going to be a second referendum.
“We remain confident we will agree a mutually advantageous deal with the EU, that works for business and the economy.”