Saturday 15 December 2018

Hard Brexit could ground UK flights for three weeks but Ryanair would survive - Michael O'Leary

  • Tánaiste does not expect commitment to new Brexit summit date at EU leader meeting
  • May will address 27 EU national leaders at a summit before they sit down to dinner without her
  • Micheál Martin said Taoiseach must guarantee no general election until UK makes Brexit decision
Michael O'Leary
Michael O'Leary Business Desk & John Downing

A hard Brexit could ground UK flights for up to three weeks but would be survivable for Ryanair, Michael O'Leary said ahead of a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels on Wednesday.

The chief executive was speaking ahead of a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels later today.

"We can ground airplanes for a week, two weeks, three weeks. It would be very painful," O’Leary told Reuters in Berlin. "But we are a big company, we can survive."

Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, has said the Taoiseach must guarantee no general election until the British parliament makes a decision on any emerging Brexit deal.

Simon Coveney ( Brian Lawless/PA)
Simon Coveney ( Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Martin said the outer deadline for the UK parliament to ratify Brexit – or formally signal “No Deal” - was January 21 next.  He said, whatever the outcome of Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil talks on extending the current minority Government, there must be a government in place to deal with an immediate Irish economic crisis if the UK “crashes out” of the EU.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, where the Taoiseach later today meets his EU counterparts for a Brexit summit, the Fianna Fáil threw down a direct challenge to Mr Varadkar.

“I’m saying if the British parliament does not succeed in ratifying a deal, there would be a crisis at that point for our country.  So, it’s vital that there would be a Government there to deal with that because there would be immediate damage done to our economy,”  Mr Martin said replying in Irish to questions posed by journalists.

“So, at very least, I’m looking for agreement from Leo Varadkar not to have any election before that decision is taken by the British parliament,” the Fianna Fáil leader added.

Mr Martin noted that the deadline for ratification by Westminster of any EU-UK Brexit deal is now January 21, 2019.  He said that discussions were begun between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on a potential extension of the Confidence and Supply arrangement which has now expired.

Mr Martin said he had travelled to Brussels to meet seven prime ministers and four EU commissioners to assure them that, irrespective of who was in power in Dublin, he would be working for stability and continuity. The group are part of the EU ALDE Liberal political group to which Fianna Fáil is allied.

Mr Martin also said there were signs that the British Prime Minister may manage to bypass the Democratic Unionist Party, who are propping up her minority government, and perhaps get support from the Scottish National Party and/or elements from the opposition Labour Party.

He said the DUP approach to Brexit was damaging and unhelpful.

“I don’t think it’s in the best interest of Northern Ireland, in terms of citizens, in terms of employment, in terms of businesses and in terms of agri-food,” he said.

He said the EU had a huge impact on the North in supporting the peace process over the past 25 years and generous grant aid generally.

“I think unionist politicians need to think very carefully about that and stand back from the larger political issues. The constitutional status of Northern Ireland, that’s not endangered by what is proposed here,” he added.

The Fianna Fáil leader said he retained the hope that the EU and the UK can do a Brexit deal in the coming weeks and at least before this year ends.

Earlier today, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said he did not expect the meeting of EU leaders to agree a date for a special Brexit summit in mid-November.

"I think what's more likely is that dates will be suggested but that there won't be a commitment to a new summit unless there is a signal from the negotiating teams that there's something to sign off on," Mr Coveney told BBC radio on Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will address the EU leaders in Brussels before they decide at dinner after May has left whether to firm up a tentative plan to hold a special Brexit summit in mid-November.

Mr Coveney also said that EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has indicated that the EU is willing to allow more time to find a solution to the issue of the Irish backstop.

Read more: Surge in UK searches for info on Irish passports and citizenship since Brexit

European Union leaders are expected to give British Prime Minister Theresa May a tough reception in Brussels, warning her to rally support at home for the Brexit deal on offer or be cut loose without one in March.

May will address the other 27 EU national leaders at a summit before they sit down to dinner without her. Officials said they expected the leaders to tell May they have little more to offer since talks stalled on Sunday and they will step up preparations for Britain to drop out of the bloc with no deal.

Summit chair Donald Tusk warned that the risk of a "no deal" dumping Britain out of the bloc and into legal limbo and border chaos on March 29 was greater than ever. He put the onus on May to bring a "creative" solution to break the impasse over the EU-UK land border on the island of Ireland.




More to follow...


Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business