The UK’s richest man has said negotiating Brexit should not be “the world’s biggest challenge” and that it should be possible to reach a deal in a “sensible” way.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, 66, chief executive of petrochemical giant Ineos, said he did not like the “drama” surrounding Britain’s exit from the EU.
Sir Jim, who topped the Sunday Times Rich List earlier this year with a fortune of £21 billion, was knighted at Buckingham Palace yesterday.
He said: “I don’t think it should have been the world’s biggest challenge to negotiate Brexit really because you’re just taking sovereignty back.
“You’re trying to organise a sensible trade deal … and, you know, we’ve got the old relationships.
“We stepped in in the war and sacrificed a lot of people and a lot of our economy, on our own behalf, but also on other people’s behalf in Europe.
“I don’t see why reaching an agreement with our European colleagues should be so difficult.
“We ought to just be able to get there in a sensible way.”
He added: “There’s a lot of drama around, which I don’t like.”
Asked if he thinks the wrong people have been sent to negotiate on behalf of the UK, he said: “I don’t want to say that. I’m not close enough to the detail to be honest.”
Sir Jim said there must be something that can be done “reasonably sensibly together”, adding: “All we’re doing is saying, ‘Germany you can sell your products in England and we’d like to sell our products in Germany’.
“Mercedes want to sell Mercedes over here. And we might want to sell Savile Row suits in Germany.”
Sir Jim added: “I’ve always been of the view that I was always in favour of the common market, which is where it all began, which is free trade amongst our European colleagues.
“But I don’t believe in the UK sovereignty being handed over to Brussels.
“I think we should run our own outfit.”
Reflecting on what it means to him to have received a knighthood, Sir Jim said: “It’s hard to describe really. It’s quite a proud moment. Nice for the family, nice for my mother. She was the first person I told, actually. I said I only had a few days to decide whether to accept it or not.
“She said, ‘Well you don’t have your mother’s permission not to accept it’.”