Brexit-backing businessman Sir James Dyson is to relocate the Dyson head office from the UK to Singapore.
The bombshell announcement will mean the company is no longer a British registered company, and Singapore will become its main tax base.
The headquarter switch from Malmesbury, Wiltshire, is likely to prove controversial given that Sir James – the company’s chairman, founder and owner – is an outspoken proponent of Brexit.
The billionaire attracted a slew of pro-remain criticism after a 2017 interview in which he said a post-Brexit Britain should scrap corporation tax and make it easier to hire and fire workers.
It is the second blow Dyson has dealt after last year’s announcement that it will manufacture its new electric cars in Singapore, rather than the UK.
In justifying the move, chief executive Jim Rowan dismissed the idea of Brexit and lower taxes being a motivation.
“The move is nothing to do with Brexit or tax, it’s about making sure we are future proofed. There are huge revenue opportunities in Singapore, China is the poster child of that,” he said.
“The tax difference is negligible for us, we are taxed all over the world and we will continue to pay tax in the UK. We will continue to invest in the UK, in Malmesbury, in Bristol and London.”
Rowan confirmed that Sir James was integral to the decision to ditch Britain.
Pro-remain Lib Dem MP Layla Moran said the decision was “damning for the government” and showed “staggering hypocrisy”.
She told HuffPost UK: “James Dyson can say whatever he wants but he is ditching Britain.
“This can only be seen as a vote of no confidence in the idea of Brexit Britain.”
A number of other people vented anger on Twitter.
Breaking news: James Dyson, a prominent Brexiter, is moving his HQ to Singapore
When Brexiters said that Brexit Britain would be more like Singapore, we didn’t realise this was because they would be moving their jobs & businesses wholesale from Britain to Singapore!
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) January 22, 2019
Brexit-backing tycoon James Dyson relocating his HQ from Britain to Singapore is a vote of no confidence in Brexit Britain from a reckless billionaire who helped dump us in this mess yet can escape the chaos he helped create
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) January 22, 2019
James Dyson’s lack of social obligation is an utter disgrace.
— Tom Kibasi (@TomKibasi) January 22, 2019
Two of Dyson’s senior executives will move to Singapore initially, with the head count to grow over the coming years.
The company, best known for its vacuum cleaners and other domestic appliances, is working on developing an electric vehicle in the Asian nation.
The firm said in a statement: “An increasing majority of Dyson’s customers and all of our manufacturing operations are now in Asia; this shift has been occurring for some time and will quicken as Dyson brings its electric vehicle to market.
“We are now at a point where Dyson’s corporate head office will relocate there to reflect the increasing importance of Asia to Dyson’s business.”
But having one of Britain’s most successful manufacturers quit the UK comes at a sensitive time, with several car makers including Nissan, Ford and Toyota warning about the rising prospects of a no-deal Brexit, which would jeopardise their operations in the country.
Dyson was keen to stress its commitment to Britain, pointing out that it is investing £200m in new buildings and testing facilities at its campus at Hullavington Airfield.
The company bought the disused airfield two years ago and has already renovated two hangars at the 517-acre site.
The announcement was made alongside Dyson’s full year results for 2018, when profits topped £1bn for the first time.
Turnover rocketed 28% to £4.4bn and profits jump 33% to £1.1bn, with Rowan pointing to the success of products such as its Supersonic hairdryer.