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East Anglia Future 50

Finance tycoon warns of 'immense damage' to Suffolk's economy from Brexit

PUBLISHED: 15:19 16 January 2019 | UPDATED: 19:27 16 January 2019

Richard Croft, mSeven real estate

Richard Croft, mSeven real estate

Archant

A real estate tycoon has warned Brexit will cause huge damage to Suffolk's economy.

Richard Croft, who heads up a real estate fund that manages more than £7bn of assets, has outlined his fears and allies for a second vote.

An ardent remainer, the chief executive of M7 Real Estate, also warns that the impact Brexit will have on businesses in Suffolk is “much worse than we think” and admits he’s “livid” about the way the UK’s departure from the EU is being handled.

MORE: Supermarket chain is set to open two new stores in Suffolk

Mr Croft believes that his home county of Suffolk will be particularly badly affected, because it is a major producer of sugar. British Sugar, which has a plant in Bury Saint Edmunds, makes its Silver Spoon brand of white sugar from sugar beet grown in our region.

“We are a predominantly agricultural county, and one of the things we grow most is sugar beet, which is supported by CAP (common agricultural policy). Without that, growing sugar beet just wouldn’t be viable,” he explained.

“So what’s going to happen after CAP? Because the British government won’t have the money spare to support the farmers – or to pay for all the infrastructure projects that we need in Suffolk.“

Mr Croft is funding a new social enterprise at Riduna Park in Melton, Shout About Suffolk, which aims to cushion the economic blow of Brexit for budding entrepreneurs in Suffolk. The start up lab will incubate nine businesses with office space, educational tools, back office support and a £30,000 loan.

He claims the inspiration for Start Up Suffolk came from his experience of donating to a food bank in Woodbridge.

“There is great deprivation in our county, and I believe that most politicians – Brexiteers and Donald Trump – are populists, who are gaining popularity from people who are feeling disenfranchised,” he said.

“Shout About Suffolk is my way of starting a process to contribute, to try to create more social mobility in Suffolk.”

Mr Croft spends his life travelling the world raising capital – he is in Switzerland today, and Hong Kong tomorrow. He says that businesspeople he speaks to about Brexit are nervous about what it means for trade.

“The rest of the world isn’t just sitting around waiting for us. I wonder what the Brexiteers think will happen to our economy 
when free trade disappears,” he said.

Mr Croft claims that a second referendum is entirely necessary now, “to either confirm Brexit – as the general public on both sides is now much better informed – or bring a halt to this failure of government”.

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