In Brief

James Dyson: Hard Brexit tariffs a 'tiny price to pay'

Billionaire claims WTO rules have 'not held us back' as company posts record profits and sales

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Sir James Dyson says there is no threat from an ultra-hard Brexit, in which the UK falls back on World Trade Organization rules to do business with the EU.

Speaking to The Guardian, the billionaire innovator, who supported the Leave campaign in last year's EU referendum, said tariffs of five to ten per cent were a "tiny price to pay" for trading with Europe.

He added that they had "not held us back at all" and were a fraction of the cost of national corporation taxes.

Dyson's goods, although designed in the UK, are manufactured in Singapore and so are already subject to WTO tariffs in order to be sold in the European single market.

Dyson was speaking as his company announced record sales of £2.5bn, an increase of 45 per cent, and a profit jump of more than 40 per cent to £631m for 2016.

These stellar figures were driven by fast-growing markets in Asia, with sales up 244 per cent in China, 266 per cent in Indonesia and 200 per cent in the Philippines.

As such, Dyson told the BBC he was "enormously optimistic" about Brexit as it will open up the UK to trade deals with rapidly expanding economies.

"Europe's only 15 per cent of the global market and the really fast-expanding markets are in the Far East," he said.

"I'm enormously optimistic because looking outwards to the rest of the world is very, very important because that's the fast-growing bit."

Dyson's comments will be dismissed by pro-single market economists as his company faces no change to its cost base because it has its manufacturing base in Asia, says the BBC.

Also, while it may have to pay tariffs to trade in the EU, Dyson sells specialised products that are often patent protected and so it is less affected by pricing pressures than companies in other sectors.

Dyson added that he does not think the government will seek to remove EU nationals already working in the UK and said students studying maths and science subjects should not be prevented from coming into the country.

"We should make maths, science and engineering students that come to stay in this country welcome here," he said.

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