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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.

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Great news @virgintrains customers & staff: new DfT deal will mean free wifi, 1000s more seats, new direct services http://t.co/QQT0lfwfG5

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.

Read: Virgin Trains plan new services under extension deal

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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
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."

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?

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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."

Read: Tory co-chairman in 'swivel-eyed loons' row

Aussie cops stop Branson for cycling without helmet

Branson pictured cycling in 2002. Credit: PA

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson has been stopped by police in Adelaide for riding a bicycle without a cycling helmet.

But the billionaire avoided a £100 fine because he said he was not aware of the local cycling rules, The Telegraph reported.

"He stopped immediately and was spoken to by two police officers at the time," a spokesman said.

"He was given a caution and then put on a helmet. It was pretty straightforward."

'Del Boy' Branson accused over 'skimpy' Virgin uniforms

Virgin Trains has delayed the introduction of new uniforms after some female staff said blouses were see through and too low cut.

The rail operator is now offering £20 vouchers for women employees to buy undergarments to save them any embarrassment.

A union chief said staff had complained the red blouses were too flimsy and would allow male passengers to see dark bras being worn underneath.

A union has accused Sir Richard Branson of sourcing train uniforms from 'Del Boy' Trotter
A union has accused Sir Richard Branson of sourcing train uniforms from 'Del Boy' Trotter Credit: eoff Caddick/PA Wire

"Our female members are upset because they feel Sir Richard Branson is cutting corners by asking them to wear flimsy blouses which are skimpy and they feel too revealing," said Manuel Cortes of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association.

"He has asked Vivienne Westwood to design the new uniform for his air crews. Unfortunately, by contrast, it looks like he is getting the blouses for train crews from Del Boy at Trotters Independent Traders Ltd at Peckham Market."

The problem came to light after trials of a new uniform for staff on Virgin's West Coast Main Line.

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