Elon Musk “doesn’t know what he’s doing” with Twitter and is “making everyone alarmed”, a former executive has said, after major brands paused their advertising spend on the platform and the company laid off thousands of staff.

Bruce Daisley, Twitter’s vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa from 2015 to 2020, said he was devastated by the undemocratic changes at Twitter and would leave the platform with “no hesitation” if there was a good alternative.

“I think Elon thought he was going to come in and solve everything and very quickly he’s going to work out that it’s far more complicated,” he told podcast The News Agents this weekend. “It’s pretty evident from every public action that he’s taken with this whole acquisition: he doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

Daisley, who was Twitter’s most senior executive in London, also criticised Musk’s plan to charge users $8 a month for a “blue tick” verification symbol. He told the Observer Musk was trading the “legitimacy of verified sources” for “pocket money”. “The fact that we have no recourse over that is undemocratic,” he said.