London: Ryanair Holdings Plc Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said a UK vote to leave the European Union could lead the whole of the 28-nation bloc to unravel.
Speaking one day before a referendum on a so-called Brexit, O’Leary, an Irishman who has emerged as one of the most outspoken backers of the “Remain” campaign, warned that a victory for the “Leave” side would signal “an end to the European project.”
While a decision to quit the EU would most likely cause three years of disruption to the UK economy and clip demand for flights for the same period, the impact on Europe as a whole would be more severe, the executive said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.
O’Leary, who favours an overhaul of the EU to make it less bureaucratic and simplify regulations, said that whatever the result of the vote Thursday the concerns expressed during the debate “should teach the boys in Brussels a lesson.”
Asked whether UK Prime Minister David Cameron had undermined the credibility of the pro-EU argument by suggesting that a Brexit might devastate the economy, O’Leary said that the “Remain” side’s approach should be judged solely in terms of the result. “History is written by the winners,” he said.
The CEO said last month at a Bloomberg Brexit forum in Dublin that “Remain” needed to “terrify the life out of everybody that there’s a real danger the lunatics on the ‘Leave’ side are going to win.”
Ryanair, which is based in the Irish capital but counts the UK as its biggest market — accounting for almost two out of every five of its passengers — has spent about 25,000 euros ($28,000) on an anti-Brexit advertising drive.
Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, has publicly supported the campaign to keep the UK in the EU.