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Virgin chief: 'Space is hard and today was a tough day'

The chief executive of Virgin Galactic has said "space is hard and today was a tough day" after the company's SpaceShipTwo crashed in the Mojave desert during a test flight, killing one of the two pilots on board.

"We are going to be supporting the investigation as we figure out what happened today and we're going to get through it," George Whiteside said at a news conference at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

Mr Whiteside confirmed Virgin chief Sir Richard Branson would be arriving to join the team on Saturday morning local time.

"The future rests in many ways on hard days like this," he added. "But we believe we owe it to the folks who are flying these vehicles and the folks who have been working so hard on them to understand this and move forward, which is what we'll do."

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Richard Branson: Great news for Virgin Trains

Founder of Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson has taken to Twitter to welcome the "great news" of Virgin Trains securing an extension deal to its West Coast Main Line franchise.

Under the extension deal, West Coast services will continue until March 2017 and a number of "improvements" including increased capacity, new services and "superfast Wifi" will be unveiled.

Sir Richard Branson dodges independence question

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson has refused to enter the Scottish independence debate, telling an audience in Edinburgh it is "not his place" to give his opinion.

Sir Richard Branson (right) took part in a Q&A session with veteran broadcaster Alastair Stewart. Credit: PA

The entrepreneur was speaking at the Scottish Business Awards in Edinburgh last night, in front of an audience of 2,000 guests, including First Minister Alex Salmond.

ITV News' Alastair Stewart hosted a question-and-answer session with Sir Richard and asked him if he thought Scotland's famous entrepreneurial track record could be better maintained as part of the UK or under independence.

The billionaire received a round of applause from the audience when he said: "I had a feeling this was going to come up. I'm not sure it's my place to intervene and I know that's a cop out.

"I'm coming to the Commonwealth Games, maybe by then I'll say something."

Sir Richard Branson retires to holiday island

Sir Richard Branson has left Britain and is living on his holiday island of Necker in the British Virgin Islands, it has been confirmed. He moved there seven years ago, a spokesman said.

Sir Richard Branson who has left Britain and is living on his holiday island of Necker in the British Virgin Islands. Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The Sunday Times newspaper said that Sir Richard's decision to leave the country is a turnaround for the charismatic entrepreneur who has draped himself in the Union Jack to promote his business.

The spokesman said: "After almost 40 years of working in the UK, Richard, now in his 60s, chose to live on his island Necker in the British Virgin Islands, an island he bought in 1979.

"Since he gives 100% of any monies he earns from these to charity, it makes no difference for tax purposes whether he is in the UK or the BVI."

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Branson: Attract 'higher quality' MPs by improving pay

Sir Richard Branson has said a wage increase for MPs could be a good thing for the country because it will attract "higher quality politicians."

In a blog on the Virgin website, Branson argued that "countries would be able to attract higher quality politicians by offering them greater rewards".

Sir Richard Branson. Credit: Press Association Images

The Virgin founder also suggested the cost could be offset by reducing the number of politicians and the size of parliament.

Branson believes changes in pay could help reduce corruption and produce a more efficient and effective government which could improve the global economy.

Read: Most MPs work hard, so should they get paid more?

Business leaders take aim at Eurosceptics in open letter

Sir Martin Sorrell and Sir Richard Branson were among the signatories to the letter attacking Eurosceptics. Credit: Chris Jackson / Rebecca Le May / Press Association

Some of the country's most prominent business leaders have accused Eurosceptic MPs of "putting politics before economics" by calling for Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.

The group, which includes the chairmen of BT, Deloitte and Lloyds along with Sir Martin Sorrell and Sir Richard Branson, said Britain's business interests and economy can only benefit from playing a central role in the EU.

In a letter to The Independent, they called for David Cameron to "strengthen and deepen" the European single market, adding: "The economic case to stay in the EU is overwhelming."

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