Ryanair Brexit voters cheap flight offer under police investigation

Published:  23 May at 6 PM
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Following its spectacular offer of ultra-cheap flights to the UK for expats wanting to vote ‘no’ to a Brexit, the controversial low-cost airline is under police investigation for breaching UK bribery laws.

Ryanair’s advertisement stated that expats wishing to vote ‘Remain’ could fly home for just €19.99 on either 22nd or 23rd June in order to express their preferences for staying in the EU. Unsurprisingly, this clever ploy did not sit well with those organising the Vote Leave campaign, who immediately complained to the police over the airline’s supposed breach of the bribery laws.

Vote Leave director Dominic Cummings told reporters the ‘corrupt’ offer broke section 1 of the Bribery Act 2010 and also contravened referendum rules. Also unsurprisingly, the response from Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary was to extend his offer for another full day after labelling the complaint as ‘desperate’.

Cummings’ two-page missive to Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe stated that the airline is paying part of voters’ expenses via discounted flights in order to persuade them to vote to stay in the EU. Cummings took his objections one step further by comparing the discounted flight offer to a pub adjacent to a polling station which gave out free drinks to those who voted in a particular manner.

O’Leary is firmly in the ‘Remain’ court, making it clear in an interview along with Ed Balls, Vince Cable and George Osborne that air fares would need to increase in the event of a Brexit. He said his Fly Home to Vote Remain seat offer was in full compliance with the airline’s policy of cheap air travel between the UK and European destinations.

Scotland Yard’s reply to reporters’ questions was brief and uninformative, stating only that it had received the complaint, would consider its contents and reply in due course. It’s possible that the entire incident will be considered a storm in a teacup, but it demonstrates the height of contrasting feelings in the run-up to one of the most important decisions UK citizens have ever had to make.
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