Rishi Sunak took private jet trips costing almost £500,000 in just over a week last year, government data has shown, prompting opposition claims that he is out of touch and unable to lead on green issues.
A Cabinet Office document detailing overseas prime ministerial travel in the third quarter of 2022 showed No 10 spent just under £108,000 on private jet travel to and from the Cop27 summit in Egypt, flying in on 6 November and returning the next day.
A week after, he set off to the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, coming back on 17 November, a round trip that cost more than £340,000.
In December, a day trip to Latvia and Estonia to visit troops cost more than £62,000. The period also covers an official overseas trip during Liz Truss’s brief tenure, during which she took a private jet to and from a meeting in Prague that cost almost £40,000.
While Downing Street sometimes has access to an RAF Voyager plane, a mid-air refuelling craft that has had its interior fitted out to carry passengers, all the flights listed involved an Airbus A-321 operated by the charter carrier Titan Airways on behalf of the UK government.
The plane is painted with a union flag tail fin, and is a de facto equivalent to the official aircraft used by some other world leaders.
Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrats’ energy and climate spokesperson, said: “This is a shocking waste of taxpayers’ money at a time when people are struggling to pay their bills. Yet again this Conservative government is completely out of touch.
“The government can pretend to care about a greener future with their so-called ‘green day’ but the reality is they are trashing their own promises.”
The Cabinet Office costings document shows nearly another £20,000 was spent on other costs for the prime ministers, including accommodation, meals and visas.
This does not include the costs for officials who also went on the trips. The delegations varied in size from the 19 who accompanied Truss to Prague to the 35 who joined Sunak in Bali.
Some prime ministerial flights, for example those to and from Bali, also carry members of the travelling UK press, who pay for the flights.
A Downing Street spokesperson defended the flights. They said: “The role of the prime minister includes holding vital meetings with world leaders during bilateral visits and summits to discuss issues of international importance – including security, defence and trade.”
Source : TheGuardian