O’Leary Reveals: Britain to Contribute to EU Budget for Next 15 Years!

"Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary slams Brexit as 'unbelievably messy' and predicts UK's Norway-style deal with EU in next 10-15 years"

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has launched a fresh attack on Brexit, describing it as “unbelievably messy” and predicting that the UK will end up signing a Norway-style deal with the EU in the next 10 to 15 years, under which it would pay into the bloc’s budget. O’Leary said that over the next three to five years, the UK’s departure from the EU would be “net negative on the UK economy, no question about it”. He stated that the UK will pay into a European budget, adding that the fundamental strength of the single market is too attractive for the UK economy to be excluded from.

Speaking during a panel discussion at Bloomberg’s New Economy Gateway event, O’Leary said that a lot would depend on “how Europe responds to Brexit”, adding that Brexit should serve as a real warning to the European Union. He believes that the EU needs to focus on the things that improve people’s lives, which is improving the single market. O’Leary described the British labour market as “broken”, saying that leaving the EU had forced Ryanair to hire European and non-European workers on what he called “ludicrously” expensive visas, costing £3,000 each.

The Ryanair CEO, who has frequently criticised the economic impact of Brexit, said that the benefits touted before the 2016 referendum had been shown to be lies. “Everything that was promised to the UK population, the sunny uplands, the ability to do trade deals with everywhere around the world were shown to be another tissue of lies,” he said. Ryanair publicly campaigned against Brexit in the run-up to the EU referendum, and the airline had expected Boris Johnson’s government to “put the economy first and do a sensible deal” with the EU, O’Leary said, but this had not happened. However, he added that Johnson’s successor as prime minister, Rishi Sunak, had struck an “immeasurably better deal” with his “Windsor framework” post-Brexit agreement, which allowed a way for the UK and EU to move forward.

The airline boss contrasted his prediction of Britain’s economic fortunes with those of the bloc, saying he was “surprised at the strength of spending in the European economy at the moment” where “business is booming and getting boomier”. In January, Ryanair increased its full-year profit guidance following a strong performance between October and December, when its profit after tax surged to €211m. The airline said at the time it was benefiting from pent-up demand for travel, and customers booking ahead for their summer holidays.

In his usual forthright manner, O’Leary pointed out how British demographics were in favour of greater European integration in the future. “In the next five to 10 years, quite a number of the Brexiteers will die,” he said, adding that those who voted to leave the EU tended to be older, and younger Britons “are much more pro-European in their outlook”. O’Leary has previously cited Brexit as the root of several challenges faced by airports and airlines as the industry has recovered from the pandemic. He said last year that Brexit was partly to blame for a shortage of airport workers, which prompted chaos during the peak summer getaway. The airline also dropped the London listing of its shares in December 2021, leaving only its Dublin stock market listing, blaming compliance difficulties post-Brexit.

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