Wednesday 22 November 2017

O'Leary tells of 'lunatic optimism' in UK on Brexit

Outspoken: Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Outspoken: Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has accused the British government of "lunatic optimism" over Brexit.

He warned the country was on the verge of walking off a cliff by leaving the EU.

He said government ministers in Britain had no idea what they were doing.

He added: "If we [Ryanair] get it wrong, I'm sure we'll come charging back into the UK with more aircraft and airports doing lower-cost deals.

"But frankly there's very little evidence apart from some mildly lunatic optimism over here that it will be all right on the night.

"It's like Dad's Army going off to war here. It'll be all right, Sergeant (sic) Jones. You'll just keep plodding along.

"These guys have no idea where they're going for the next two years and the problem is that in the absence of any discussions with the Europeans on Brexit, they're all talking to themselves."

Read more: Ryanair is hiring 2,000 cabin crew - here's what you need to apply

Read more: UK will be 'screwed' in post-Brexit trade talks - O'Leary

Mr O'Leary said ministers were standing up in the House of Parliament in London claiming they were going to do a good deal for Britain.

"Any idea what a good deal looks like? No, they haven't a clue," he said.

He added: "The UK is going to walk itself off a cliff unless somebody in the Tory party comes up with a bright idea."

Mr O'Leary has been an outspoken critic of the Leave campaign in the UK, and repeatedly stated in the run-up to the referendum that Britain should remain in the EU.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Airport Operators Association in west London, Mr O'Leary said the UK government had no idea how it would go about the negotiations.

Meanwhile, Kevin Hanrahan, a research officer with agricultural research body Teagasc, spoke to TDs and senators about the main issues for farming in Ireland following the Brexit vote.

He said potential tariffs on trade between Ireland and the UK would be significant. There were also be an effect on the EU budget and the Common Agricultural Policy, given the funding deficit created by the UK's departure from the EU.

Mr Hanrahan also said the capacity of the agri-food sector on the island of Ireland to be able to function as a single entity, and the future decisions on the UK's trading relationships with countries outside of the EU, would be affected.

"The fall in the value of sterling has made it more difficult for Irish exporters to properly fulfil the contracts they had with UK customers that are denominated in sterling," he added.

"It should be noted, however, that this exchange rate impact is just part of the challenge that Brexit may present for the Irish agri-food sector."

Fellow research officer Trevor Donnellan noted that sterling had strengthened recently from 90 pence to the euro, to about 85 pence. This, he said would help exporters.

Irish Independent

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