Truss defends charter flight to Australia that reportedly cost £500,000

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The Foreign Secretary has defended chartering a private jet to Australia after reports estimated the trip would have cost taxpayers around £500,000.

Critics said the move was a “grotesque misuse” of public money, but Liz Truss said the government plane was available “precisely so government ministers can travel.”

The Independent reported that the Foreign Secretary had opted to charter her trip last week due to security concerns, although commercial routes were available.


We have a government plane specifically so that ministers, like me in my role as Foreign Secretary, can go and do work abroad.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss

The newspaper said he had traveled on the private government Airbus A321, which a senior source told them would have cost £500,000 to operate.

Asked about the reports, Mrs Truss told broadcasters during a trip to Northern Ireland: “I used the government plane, that’s why we have a government plane – to allow government ministers to carry out government business, and that’s what I flew to Australia on.”

Pressed on whether it would have been better to use commercial flights instead, the cabinet minister said: “Every government decision is based on value for money.

“We have a government plane specifically so that ministers, like myself in my role as Foreign Secretary, can go and do work abroad, which is ultimately useful to the British people.”

The Foreign Ministry said the trip was within the rules established by the ministerial code.

Liz Truss said private jets were available for ministers embarking on trips abroad (Aaron Chown/PA)

(PA cord)

Officials said that using the private jet allowed the travel delegation to travel together and have private discussions about sensitive security matters, that commercial flights were fully booked, and that using a commercial flight would have separated Ms. Truss from her delegation and team. of protection.

It also gave Mrs Truss the option to return to the UK early if necessary, it is understood.

However, Labor Vice-President Angela Rayner said the decision to fly private showed the public “exactly how little respect this Conservative government has for taxpayers’ money”.

She said: “It is obscene that government ministers are jet-setting yet raising taxes and refusing to do anything to help working families when they feel the impact of the cost of living crisis.

“The Conservatives waste disgusting amounts of public money on their own vanity and comfort, Labor wants families to see a cut in energy bills, that’s the difference.”

SNP environmental spokeswoman Deidre Brock criticized Ms Truss’ mode of travel, saying it was a “grotesque misuse of taxpayers’ money to finance her high-society lifestyle”.

She said: “With a record like this, Lavish Liz will be a fitting successor to Boris Johnson.”

In a policy paper called Back to Black that Ms. Truss co-authored in 2009, she, along with others, outlined how public sector workers should be careful what they spend, starting with “traveling economy instead of in business class.

The ministerial code says that ministers can authorize unscheduled flights “when a scheduled service is not available, or when travel by air is essential, but official or parliamentary business requirements or security considerations prevent travel from being carried out on a scheduled service.” programmed. ”.

Chris Bryant, Labor chairman of the Commons Standards Committee, tweeted: “For comparison, my first trip as foreign minister was on easyJet at 6am and we didn’t pay for fast boarding.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “There is a need for the Foreign Secretary to travel abroad to pursue UK interests around security, trade and technology, as she did during this visit to Australia.

“Traveling in this way allows ministers to have private discussions on sensitive security issues and flexibility to respond to rapidly changing global events.

“This trip used government transportation and was completely within the rules.”

The plane Truss used for her trip was recently refurbished, according to photos shared online last year.

It was painted in the colors of the British flag, as was a larger private plane available to ministers, the RAF Voyager, which in 2020 was given a new paint job costing nearly £1 million.

The contract for the Airbus A321 said it “must be operated in ‘Global Britain’ livery,” with a stipulation included that it can only be used by the government.

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www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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