Business Irish

Saturday 10 December 2016

O'Leary: I'll campaign to keep Britain in the EU

Published 05/10/2015 | 02:30

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary has said it is in both Britain’s and Ireland’s interest for the United Kingdom to vote against leaving the European Union in the forthcoming referendum
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary has said it is in both Britain’s and Ireland’s interest for the United Kingdom to vote against leaving the European Union in the forthcoming referendum

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary will take a leading role in the campaign to keep Britain in the EU. Despite being an outspoken critic of Brussels in the past, Mr O'Leary said all businesses should take part in the campaign.

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"Sometimes if you're Irish, you don't like expressing views in England," he said. "(Ryanair] are not that shy and we're not that retiring.

"So as the UK's largest airline, we intend to be very active in that referendum next year because I think it's absolutely vital, not just for the continuation of Ireland's economic success, but also for the continuation of the UK recovery and the UK economic success, that the UK stays a member of the European Union."

Mr O'Leary was speaking at a recent British-Irish Chamber of Commerce dinner.

He said: "They (the British) are one of the few sensible voices in the European Union.

"I don't want to be a member of a union where we don't have the English counterbalancing the somewhat more weird ideas of the French.

"It's important, I think, that business plays a role in this.

"If you look at the recent elections in the UK, particularly the Scottish referendum, I think in the days prior, when it looked like it really might get lost, businesses in Scotland really got up off their backsides and got very active.

"I think they played an important role in trying to keep that union together and keeping Scotland part of the union, which is ultimately in Scotland's best interests."

Mr O'Leary said the EU had got a "lot of bad press".

He added: "I'm one of the people in this country who's been tortured by the European Union frequently and yet the single market is absolutely key to the continuing economic growth certainly of Ireland, also of the UK, and therefore I think we should go out and fight for it."

The call was made ahead of UK prime minister David Cameron refusing to rule out campaigning for Britain to leave the EU if European leaders don't give him the concessions he wants.

"If I don't get what I want, then I rule nothing out," he told BBC television.

Mr Cameron said the negotiations were "bloody hard work" but urged his party to be patient over Britain's relationship with Europe ahead of a vote on membership, which he has promised to hold by the end of 2017.

He is demanding that the EU allow Britain to cut benefits for EU migrants and allow it to prevent the application of eurozone rules that might hurt the UK.

"There are some people who want to leave the EU... and there is nothing I am going to bring back that will satisfy those people," Mr Cameron said when asked about disputes in his party over Europe.

"I am trying to get for Britain the things that we need and obviously once I have got them I will turn around and make the case for staying in a reformed Europe."

Mr Cameron's party has been riven by a conflict over Europe - something that contributed to the downfall of former leaders Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

Irish Independent

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