Man Utd co-owner Jim Ratcliffe says Brexit hasn't worked and voters will punish Tories

Sir Jim Ratcliffe said those in power have failed to address immigration, 'which is why I think we’ll finish up with a change of government'.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has said Brexit 'didn’t turn out how people anticipated'. (PA)
Sir Jim Ratcliffe has said Brexit 'didn’t turn out how people anticipated'. (PA)

Billionaire businessman Sir Jim Ratcliffe has said Brexit hasn’t worked and that voters will turn to Labour as a result.

The Manchester United co-owner and Ineos founder was a vocal supporter of the UK leaving the EU but has criticised the government’s delivery of Brexit, saying it has ultimately failed to address immigration.

Ratcliffe, who it has been reported moved to Monaco to avoid UK taxes on his fortune, told Sky News: “Brexit, unfortunately, didn’t turn out how people anticipated. Brexit was largely about immigration. That was the biggest component of that vote.

“People were getting fed up of the influx of [the size of] the city of Southampton coming in every year… I think last year it was two times Southampton.

“A small island like the UK can’t cope with vast numbers of people coming into the UK, it just overburdens the NHS, the traffic service, the police.

“The country was designed for 55 or 60 million people and we’ve got 70 million people, and all the services break down as a consequence."

TOPSHOT - Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative party leader Boris Johnson poses after hammering a
Former prime minister Boris Johnson pledged to 'get Brexit done' during the 2019 election campaign. (AFP via Getty Images)

Net migration hit a record 745,000 in 2022, although it is estimated to have fallen to 672,000 in the year to June 2023.

The government’s 2019 manifesto commitment, made when net migration was around 219,000, was for overall numbers to come down.

Ratcliffe added: “That’s what Brexit was all about and nobody has implemented that. They just keep talking about it but nothing has been done, which is why I think we’ll finish up with a change of government, to be honest.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer met Ratcliffe last weekend to discuss the redevelopment of Old Trafford, Manchester United’s dilapidated stadium.

He said of the current government: "There’s no question that the Conservatives have had a good run over the last 15, 20 years and I think most of the country feels it’s probably time for a change, and I sort of get that, really.”

Asked whether his company would donate to Labour, he said: “We’re apolitical at Ineos, we just want a successful manufacturing sector in the UK."

Ratcliffe's comments about immigration and Brexit deciding the next general election contrast with polling. According to Ipsos’s latest monthly “issues index”, immigration is only the fourth most important issue for Britons.

Its latest survey of 1,035 adults suggested the most important issue is the economy (34%) followed by the NHS (29%) and inflation (27%). Immigration was mentioned by 24% of respondents.

Meanwhile, mentions of Brexit or Europe was just 3%, which Ipsos said was the lowest level of concern recorded since September 2012.

The latest Ipsos issues index. (Ipsos)
The latest Ipsos issues index. (Ipsos)

Gideon Skinner, head of politics research at Ipsos, said: "The economy and public services are likely to remain at the forefront of voters’ minds over the coming months, suggesting that they will be critical factors as we approach the election.

"The NHS was important in 2019 as well, but in other ways the next election is shaping up to be quite different. Despite recent falls, inflation is still a bigger public worry than five years ago, especially for young people, while immigration is a concern for Conservatives and older people.

"But Brexit, which was one of the defining factors in Boris Johnson’s victory in 2019, is now at its lowest point on the public’s agenda for over 10 years."