Business tycoon Lord Sugar has said Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove should be jailed for the “lies” they told during the EU referendum.
The Apprentice host said there was a “good argument” for voiding the result of the 2016 poll, in which a majority of voters backed leaving the bloc, because people had been misled.
The independent crossbench peer made his remarks amid calls during a House of Lords debate for a second Brexit referendum, which has been dubbed a “People’s Vote”.
However, Tory former chancellor and prominent Brexiteer Lord Lamont warned against holding another referendum, arguing that it would be “a disaster of the first order” for democracy.
Lord Sugar initially indicated that he was against another vote, saying: “It would be a complete farce if you could have another crack of the whip.”
He added: “However, there is a very good argument to void that vote if it can be concluded that the public were totally misled and it is my belief that a large section of the British public were misled, informing their decision to vote to leave.”
Drawing on his own business experience, Lord Sugar highlighted the strict rules under which public companies operated “where all comments and forecasts … had to be scrutinised line by line by auditors and lawyers in a very tough due diligence and verification process.”
He said: “No such process exists for claims politicians make.
“In some cases misleading shareholders had resulted in prosecution, imprisonment.
“Applying the public company principle, it should follow that those people who will be responsible for putting this country into five to 10 years of post-Brexit turmoil based on lies should be in prison or at least prosecuted.
To supportive cheers, Lord Sugar went on: “Such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove for the £350 million lie they put on the red bus.”
This was a reference to the controversial claim over NHS funding seen along the side of a Brexit battlebus used during the EU referendum campaign.
Lord Sugar also revealed that he had been invited by then prime minister David Cameron to take the lead for the Remain side in the televised BBC debate and that he continues to “kick” himself for turning it down.
He knew that, in his “forceful manner”, he could have got Mr Johnson to admit he was lying “and, who knows, that could have swung the vote”.
Lord Sugar also took a swipe at prominent Labour Leave campaigner Gisela Stuart, who, as a “German immigrant”, had come to the UK and “flourished and contributed” and yet had been critical of immigration and the pressure it put on services.
“I would say pot, kettle,” he added.
Despite his earlier comments, Lord Sugar said people should be entitled to a vote on the final Brexit deal.
Tory peer Lord Lamont was critical of the phrase “people’s referendum”, which he argued was “an Orwellian use of language designed to conceal meaning”.
He said: “The impression one has … is that for many people they cannot accept the democratic result of the referendum.
“This, of course, is in the long tradition of the EU which has bulldozed in the past policies for integration, even when public opinion has been cautious or opposed to it.”
Dismissing claims that a second referendum would be “a healing process”, Lord Lamont said: “It would create a permanent division in our politics.”
Highlighting the disillusionment and disdain felt by the public towards the system, Lord Lamont said: “I believe that a second referendum would be a disaster of the first order for democracy.
“It would undermine the very basis of democracy because it would suggest a decision by a majority is insufficient to make that decision legitimate.”