Chief executives from almost 200 UK firms, including bosses from 36 FTSE 100 companies signed a letter in March last year supporting the Leave campaign in the lead up to the European Union referendum vote.
Verdict takes a look at some of the UK’s most powerful CEOs who supported the Leave campaign and continue to back Brexit.
1. Michael Geoghegan
Michael Geoghegan is a 63-year-old former HSBC chief executive between 2006 and 2010.
He co-wrote a report with independent risk consultant Peter Udale in May last year, outlining seven reasons why Britain would be better off outside of the EU.
“Over the course of many years, the UK Government has failed to stop damaging EU financial sector regulation, has ceded control to the eurozone and has suffered an erosion of its sovereign powers in areas such as taxation,” the report said.
In a separate article for The Telegraph just days before the referendum vote on 23 June 2016 he said:
Remaining inside [the EU] is very worrying for British competitiveness, jobs and prosperity. The financial system, on which everyone in Britain and all its businesses depend, is probably the most vulnerable part of the economy.
Two months earlier, Geoghegan hit the headlines when it emerged he avoided paying tax on his £8m Kensington townhouse, by holding it through an offshore company. The scandal was exposed by the Guardian, prompted by the Panama Papers leak.
Tim Martin is the founder and chairman of JD Wetherspoon, a pub chain in the UK and Ireland. His euroscepticism reaches back decades.
In 2002, he distributed 500,000 beer mats across his pub chain, urging Britain not to join the euro.
A member of the official campaign group Vote Leave, Martin said there would be “far more uncertainty” if the UK chose to stay in the EU two months before the referendum.
The EU is “bad for our business” the 61-year-old told the BBC.
3 Things That Will Change the World Today
After the Leave campaign’s victory in June 2016, Martin issued an official statement: “The UK will thrive as an independent country, making its own laws, and we will work with our good friends and neighbours in Europe and elsewhere to ensure a positive outcome for all parties,” he said.
In November, he warned that his pub chain could stop selling European drinks brands unless EU leaders stop “bullying” Britain.
3. Luke Johnson
Luke Johnson, 55, is chairman of cafe chain Patisserie Valerie and co-founder of Risk Capital Partners, a London-based private equity firm.
He is also a former chairman of Channel 4.
He called the EU “costly, dysfunctional and bureaucratic” in an article for City A.M. last April.
“For years we have been told the EU is moving in our direction. But the reality is that the UK will be left behind as the Eurozone countries integrate to protect and preserve the euro,” he wrote at the time.
After the referendum vote, Johnson said he felt positive that the decision to leave the EU would be good for British business.
“I will continue to invest in Britain. I remain a strong believer in our future, and my experience is that this is a great country in which to do business and prosper,” he said.
4. Peter Hargreaves
Peter Hargreaves is the chairman of investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown.
He founded the Bristol-based company in 1981, and is now worth an estimated $2.9bn, according to Forbes.
In the run up to the EU referendum, he said that the likely insecurity after a Brexit vote would be a “fantastic” thing.
He compared the consequences of leaving the EU to Britain’s evacuation from Dunkirk in the second world war when 338,000 British troops were rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk in Operation Dynamo.
“All the people in the City of London who I rate and are intelligent and talk sense actually say it would better if we left,” Hargreaves said a month before the referendum. “All the government lackeys, all the bureaucrats and the people on the boards [who] haven’t got a clue what they are talking about want us to remain.”
5. Robert Hiscox
Robert Hiscox, 74, is the retired chairman of Hiscox Ltd, a Bermuda-incorporated insurance provider, listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
He held the top spot at the company for 43 years until 2013.
During the campaign, he attacked the Remain side as “corrupt,” adding that many who advocated Britain’s continued membership in the EU were acting in their own “self-interest.”
Regulation is our biggest handicap in the global race,” said Hiscox in May 2016. “And if you add on to it the extra layer of very bad and corrupt government from the EU, the waste of money is phenomenal.
He said that there was a possibility that the Bermuda-based insurance giant would move back to London if the UK votes to quit the EU.
We don’t want to bring it [Hiscox] back while we’re in the EU. If we leave, then it depends on the domestic regime whether we come back or not, but it’s possible.
Free download worth over $5000Download our 2018 Technology, Media and Telecoms Predictions Report
In this report, we look at the 30 big tech themes for 2019, identifying winners and losers for each theme. This report will impact all industries helping:
- CEOs/Senior Staff: in all industries understand the disruptive threats to their competitive landscape
- Investors: Helps fund managers focus their time on the most interesting investment opportunities in global TM