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Sir Richard Branson says hard Brexit 'a shot in the foot' as he urges new vote

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson is calling for a second EU referendum, warning a hard Brexit will be a "shot in the foot" for Britain.

The billionaire, who campaigned to remain in the EU in the lead-up to the vote, said Brexit was "one of the saddest things that has happened" to both the UK and Europe.

"If a hard Brexit happens it would be pretty devastating and it would be the biggest sort of shot in the foot that the British people have ever done to themselves, so (I) hope that sense will prevail," he told CNBC.

"When all the facts are known and are on the table, I would hope that a second referendum can take place based on real facts and not on the facts that people were given."

Sir Richard went on to criticise campaign tactics used in the lead-up to the vote, including claims by pro-Brexit organisers an extra £350 million a week would be funnelled to the NHS if Britain stopped paying EU contributions.

Following the Brexit vote last summer, the Virgin founder had urged Parliament to take a second look at the referendum result, after saying he was deeply concerned about the impact of leaving the bloc.

Virgin Group ended up pulling the plug on the acquisition of a UK firm employing 3,000 staff after the referendum results were announced.

"I just pray and hope that when all the facts are there, or everything has been negotiated, then the British people can have the decision to decide because it was a complete false premise that the referendum was brought on in the first place," Sir Richard said.

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