Sir Richard has worked for almost two decades to venture beyond the Earth and has been dreaming of the feat for much longer. His Virgin Galactic offshoot has long since wanted to send paying passengers to the edge of space and back. On Sunday, he achieved just that, in the process beating fellow entrepreneur Jeff Bezos to the finish line, who will launch his own service this week.
Shortly after the flight, Sir Richard tweeted, along with a photo of himself in zero gravity: “Welcome to the dawn of a new space age.”
While Sir Richard has over the years become known for building an empire with his ‘Virgin‘ brand, the businessman attracted more publicity during the Brexit campaign and in the aftermath of the vote.
A stalwart of the Remain camp, Sir Richard several times warned that Britain would dwindle outside the EU.
The self-made billionaire said he was willing to bet that eventually, the tide would turn and the UK would rejoin the bloc within the next ten years.
This, he said, would be done even without the need for a second referendum.
He told the South China Morning Post in 2017: “I would be willing to forecast that if they continue without allowing a second referendum, within 10 years Britain will be back in the European Union again.
“A lot of people my age will have died out and young people will overwhelmingly realise what a mistake was made and they will vote to join the European Union again.
“It is just sad to see the damage that is going to be done in the meantime.”
Elsewhere, Sir Richard issued a scattering of warnings that Virgin would withdraw investment in the UK after Brexit.
He said pumping money into a country that was harming itself “doesn’t make sense”.
He added: “It doesn’t make sense to invest in a country that is going to self-inflict itself, and there are plenty of other opportunities around the world.
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“We’ll carry on investing in the UK but we won’t be investing as much if Brexit goes ahead.”
He claimed his businesses, from airlines to health and financial services, had lost about a third of their value in the one year after Brexit.
In response to Sir Richard’s various comments, a Virgin Group spokesperson previously told Express.co.uk: “Since 2015, Virgin Group has continued to invest significantly in its businesses in the UK and across the globe.
“Investments in the UK include £75million into Virgin Care, money which has gone directly towards supporting front line NHS services, paying the salaries of doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals.
“Not a penny of profit has ever been taken from the NHS, nor will it ever be. Significant support has also been given to Virgin StartUp, which is a not-for-profit, supporting more than 3,000 entrepreneurs so far in starting and scaling their businesses.
“In addition, Virgin Group has committed $250million (£180m) to help Virgin businesses and protect jobs under threat from the global pandemic – a large proportion of this will be invested into UK companies such as Virgin Atlantic.”