Rishi Sunak diverted RAF jet to pick him up after political event and take him to Rome

The Prime Minister travelled to a political event in Teesside by train yesterday – meanwhile a taxpayer-funded RAF jet was flown up to wait overnight for him, before flying him to a far-right political conference in Rome, in apparent breach of the ministerial code

The plane flew up to Durham, where Mr Sunak was campaigning, waited overnight, then flew him to rome(PA)

Rishi Sunak flew by taxpayer funded RAF jet to a far-right political festival, the Mirror understands.

And Downing Street last night confirmed the jet had been flown empty from London to Teeside, while the PM travelled there by train to campaign in a marginal seat near his home. Mr Sunak visited the village of Yarm in Stockton South, in a bid to repair the damage caused by claims his Home Secretary, James Cleverly had branded nearby Stockton North a ’s***hole’.

The Ministerial code bans the PM from diverting government planes for journeys “to or from party business or constituency visits.” Exceptions can only be made when the time factor is “critical” – and even then, only when the only additional cost is “the extra flying time needed to carry out the additional landing and take-off.”

In this case, the jet flew to Durham on Friday afternoon and stayed overnight, before picking Mr Sunak up on Saturday morning for his flight to Rome. This would incur extra costs for overnight accommodation for the jet’s RAF crew.

Mr Sunak visited the North East to campaign in Yarm on Friday evening – travelling there by train while the RAF plane flew empty to meet him(Getty Images)

The Prime Minister has faced mounting criticism over his use of costly private air travel – both funded by taxpayers and by Tory donors. When the Prime Minister has previously travelled to political events by air, he has tended to hire private jets or helicopters that are either paid for – or provided by – Conservative donors, to avoid accusations of using taxpayers’ money for political purposes.

On April 23 this year, he used an Embraer 500 jet to attend the Scottish and Welsh Conservative Conferences, and later declared that the £36,500 cost of the plane for him and his aides had been paid for by Tory donor Akhil Tripathi. And this week it was revealed The Phoenix Partnership, a company owned by a major Tory donor, had paid £16,000 for a helicopter to take Rishi Sunak on another campaign visit in Yorkshire on 24 November.

Labour Party Chair, Anneliese Dodds, said: “We know all about the Prime Minister’s addiction to private air travel, but in the past, he has usually been careful not to ask the taxpayer to foot the bill when he is using his fleet of private jets and luxury helicopters to travel to political events.

“That makes it all the more surprising and inexplicable on this occasion that he should send an empty taxpayer-funded RAF jet to wait while he went campaigning in a marginal seat one day, and then fly him to a far-right political festival in Rome the next.”


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