The official campaign for Britain to leave the European Union has complained to police Ryanair’s offer to fly British expats back cheaply so they can vote to keep Britain in the EU.
Ryanair and its boss Michael O’Leary have been campaigning against Brexit with the headline-friendly CEO even sharing a platform with Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne. The low-cost, budget conscious airline says it has spent almost £20,000 on adverts urging customers to vote “In”.
Mr. O’Leary has warned that the airline would be forced to withdraw some investment from Britain if Britain leaves.
The airline’s “Brexit special” promises those who can vote in the 23 June referendum who are overseas that they can fly back to the UK to vote “Remain” for €19.99 euros on referendum day or the day before. It does not suggest how they should vote. Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign, wrote to London’s Metropolitan Police to complain that the special offer may violate referendum rules and anti-bribery laws.
“The ‘Leave’ campaign must be getting really desperate if they’re objecting to low-fare travel for British citizens”
“This appears to be corrupt, since the company is offering discounts on the commercial rate to customers with the sole aim of ensuring that they vote and vote to remain in the European Union,” campaign director Dominic Cummings wrote to the police.
Ryanair’s response was succinct – it extended the booking period for the special offer by 24 hours. Said Mr. O’Leary: “The ‘Leave’ campaign must be getting really desperate if they’re objecting to low-fare travel for British citizens.
“As the UK’s largest airline, Ryanair is absolutely clear that the UK economy and its growth prospects are stronger as a member of the European Union and the single market than they are outside the EU.” A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the force had received the letter, would consider its contents and respond in due course. Meanwhile, the airline this week announced €1.24 billion in profits to the end of March, a 43 per cent increase on last year’s €867m.
BLOB British expatriates barred from voting in the Referendum because they have lived abroad in other EU countries for more than 15 years were due to take their challenge to the Supreme Court in London this week. Harry Shindler, 95, living in Italy and Jacquelyn MacLennan, a lawyer living in Belgium, say up to 2m British expats are affected and their right of free movement is being restricted within the EU.