At least one group of UK residents is flourishing in Brexit Britain: an exclusive club of billionaires.
The 15 Britons on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index have added $28 billion to their fortunes since the country voted to leave the European Union on June 23, 2016, including $18 billion so far this year. Their combined net worth now totals $109 billion.
Two Brexiteers are responsible for most of the gains. Jim Ratcliffe and James Dyson have added a combined $20 billion since the vote, according to the ranking, with Ratcliffe displacing Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, as Britain’s richest person. That compares to the estimated 39 billion pounds ($51 billion) the UK would need to settle its liabilities with the European Union.
Changing of the Guard
The growth in their fortunes contrasts with the UK’s wider economic stagnation since the vote. In February, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the economy was suffering amid the “fog of Brexit,” as the bank downgraded its view on growth for this year and next. While the labour market remains strong, businesses are cutting spending, fearing an economic slowdown could turn into a severe recession if the UK ends up leaving the EU without a deal to cushion the blow.
Britain’s richest have been able to navigate such uncertainties. It helps that they are an increasingly footloose breed. More than half the British entrepreneurs on the Bloomberg ranking are no longer UK residents.
In February, Britain's Sunday Times reported that Ratcliffe, 66, was examining ways to structure his fortune to save as much as 4 billion pounds in taxes, including possibly moving to Monaco.
He’s certainly deploying his fortune in high-profile ways. His chemicals company Ineos is spending millions sponsoring a professional cycling team, and last week the billionaire said he hasn’t abandoned his pursuit of the Chelsea soccer club.