Former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg has sparked a bitter row with Brexiteers after declaring the EU referendum the “single stupidest thing any country has ever done”.
Speaking at a technology conference in Boston a fortnight ago, the 75-year-old added: “It is really hard to understand why a country that was doing so well wanted to ruin it.”
Bloomberg did however qualify his remarks by adding: “… but then we Trumped it,” in reference to the election of Donald Trump.
Bloomberg was in the UK this week to open a new European headquarters for his financial news service in London.
In comments reported by The Guardian, the media mogul expressed doubt as to whether he would have still done so had he known of the UK’s departure from Europe, adding: “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.”
Bloomberg’s remarks have ruffled feathers among Brexiteers, who where quick to point out some other decisions worse than leaving the EU:
Bloomberg: Brexit worst decision ever taken. (Apart from invading Russia, WWI, making Hitler Chancellor, appointing Mao, apartheid)
Come back to us Mikey after you’ve agreed judges and bureaucrats in another country can decide US laws & immigration https://t.co/d9zmBR4I30
Bloomberg open £1 billion new HQ in London then calls us stupid – I suppose that’s American humoUr https://t.co/7E8N7iJWOi
Memo to Mr Bloomberg: it’s not stupid for a nation to reject being destroyed, even if effects your @business profits https://t.co/pdg5nilF51
Brexit’s the “single stupidest thing any country has ever done”. Worse than the Inquisition, Hitler, Stalin, Mao etc.https://t.co/9Wamm5rPDi
Speaking on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme last year, Bloomberg warned Brexit would damage Britain’s economy.
Bloomberg, who has an honorary knighthood, said: “It’s not for me to tell British people how to vote, it’s for me to explain what – as an employer of 4,000 people in the UK, somebody who has a residence here, somebody who is building two of the most expensive buildings ever built here in the UK, in London, to make this our European headquarters – what it means for our employees, and what it means for our company, and what it means for America.
“I just think the UK would be disadvantage compared to the situation they are in now. They have a special relationship with the rest of the EU. They have the borders they can control, unlike the rest of the EU. They have a trade surplus with the rest of the EU. They have some abilities to influence the dialogue that without which they would, and America – which is my concern – would not benefit.”
Bloomberg, however, wasn’t shot of defenders:
I couldn’t have put it better myself. Michael Bloomberg telling the stark truth about #Brexit #Brexitshambles https://t.co/zgkXuYOaWD
Never before in history has a nation indulged in such economic, political and cultural self harm. https://t.co/mALkQMKAWf
Britain is seeking a so-called implementation period of around two years following its departure from the European Union in March 2019, during which its access to the EU single market would stay largely unchanged while new arrangements are put in place.
Brexit minister David Davis said on Wednesday he wants an outline agreement with the EU on the transitional arrangements by the first quarter of 2018.