Prominent Brexiteer Sir James Dyson has come under fire after his appliance firm announced that it will move its headquarters from the UK to Singapore.
The tycoon was a vocal advocate of Brexit and predicted that leaving the EU would “supercharge British technology”.
However, Dyson will soon be registered as a Singapore company rather than a British one. The relocation, which includes the transfer of two senior executives, “may even happen before Brexit”, The Times reports.
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Electronics giant Sony has also revealed plans to move its head office to Amsterdam to avoid Brexit disruption, while British-based P&O Ferries is to re-register its ships in Cyprus.
Dyson chief executive Jim Rowan insisted the move was not related to Brexit, but simply a reflection of increased opportunities in the Asian market.
He said that the firm’s UK operations, including its current base in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, will continue as normal, and that its £200m investment in new testing facilities in Hullavington, Wiltshire, will go ahead as planned.
So, “in practical terms, the change is a minor one”, says the BBC’s business correspondent Theo Leggett, but nonetheless “highly symbolic”.
Turning to the rapidly developing Asian market makes sense from a business perspective but, “as the UK struggles to define a coherent vision for its own future, it is unlikely to be applauded here”, says Leggett.
Indeed, the announcement was met with disbelief online, where tweeters expressed scepticism around the timing of the move, announced 65 days before “Brexit day”.
Pro-Remain Labour peer Lord Adonis suggested the move to Singapore was more closely linked to the EU that it appeared:
Other accused Dyson of hypocrisy:
Conservative MP and former business minister Sam Gyimah, who backed Remain in the referendum, joined the chorus of criticism against the tycoon.
“Persuading the public to back a position based on double standards is deeply unfair to the least well-off who will be worst affected by the negative consequences of the Brexit path he has advocated,” he said.
However, leading Brexiteer MP Jacob Rees-Mogg was unperturbed by the news, saying it was a welcome reminder that British firms “need to be globally competitive rather than narrowly focusing in the EU”.
Rees-Mogg himself was criticised last year when the City firm he co-founded opened a new investment fund in Ireland to protect itself against “uncertainty” after Brexit.
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