Ryanair promises biggest ever sale on Friday to 'reward' voters - if Remain wins

Exclusive: Michael O'Leary denies accusations from Vote Leave that his offer is 'corrupt'

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 22 June 2016 12:51
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Michael O’Leary offers a huge sale to customers if Britain votes to Remain
Michael O’Leary offers a huge sale to customers if Britain votes to Remain

Ryanair has stoked yet more controversy in the referendum debate by promising its “biggest-ever” seat sale on Friday - but only if the UK votes to stay in the EU.

Michael O’Leary, chief executive of the Irish airline, said: “If Britain votes to remain there’s going to be the biggest-ever Ryanair seat sale for people who want to go and visit Europe.

“It will be particularly aimed at Messrs Johnson, Farage and Gove - the people who really don’t know that much about Europe and need to spend more time abroad.”

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Mr O’Leary said: “We wouldn’t have grown to the size we’ve grown without Europe, the single market and deregulation. Low fares were brought to you by the single market. What Boris [Johnson] and Michael Gove want to go back to is a Europe when British Airways were charging £800 and only the rich could afford to fly.”

Last month Ryanair was investigated by the Metropolitan Police following a “Brexit special” offer that invited British residents overseas to “fly home to vote ‘remain’” in the Referendum for €19.99.

The Vote Leave campaign director, Dominic Cummings, said the offer was “corrupt” because it offered a discount to passengers “with the sole aim of ensuring that they vote, and vote to remain in the European Union.”

Mr O’Leary rejected the suggestion that the conditional offer is illegal, saying: “On Friday it’s after the referendum is over. It’s not bribery as the cheap seats will be available for both people who vote to remain and vote to exit.

"We want to reward everybody. We’re calling for a strong remain vote. We think if there’s a remain vote air fares will fall. Ryanair will invest more in the UK, invest more in jobs and it will be better for Britain generally.”

What to believe about the EU referendum

The EU referendum debate has so far been characterised by bias, distortion and exaggeration. So until 23 June we we’re running a series of question and answer features that explain the most important issues in a detailed, dispassionate way to help inform your decision.

What is Brexit and why are we having an EU referendum?

Does the UK need to take more control of its sovereignty?

Could the UK media swing the EU referendum one way or another?

Will the UK benefit from being released from EU laws?

Will we gain or lose rights by leaving the European Union?

Will Brexit mean that Europeans have to leave the UK?

Will leaving the EU lead to the break-up of the UK?

What will happen to immigration if there's Brexit?

Will Brexit make the UK more or less safe?

Will the UK benefit from being released from EU laws?

Will leaving the EU save taxpayers money and mean more money for the NHS?

What will Brexit mean for British tourists booking holidays in the EU?

Will Brexit help or damage the environment?

Will Brexit mean that Europeans have to leave the UK?

What will Brexit mean for British expats in Europe?

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