London: United Kingdom's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reportedy took private jet trips costing almost £500,000 (Over Rs 5 crore) in just over a week in 2022 after taking over as the country's leadership. According to a Cabinet Office report on foreign prime ministerial travel in the third quarter of 2022, No.10 spent slightly less than £108,000 on private jet travel to and from the Cop27 summit in Egypt, flying in on November 6 and returning the following day, The Guardian reported citing a government data.
A week later, Sunak left for the G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, and returned on November 17 after an expensive roundtrip of more than £340,000, the report added. A day trip to meet troops in Latvia and Estonia cost more than £62,000 in December. The time period includes Liz Truss's short overseas assignment, which included a private jet trip to and from a meeting in Prague that cost nearly £40,000.
Flights listed involved an Airbus A-321
All of the flights mentioned involved an Airbus A-321 flown by the charter airline Titan Airways on behalf of the UK government, despite the fact that Downing Street occasionally has access to an RAF Voyager, a mid-air refuelling craft with a passenger-carrying interior. The aircraft, which has a tail fin painted with the union jack, serves as a de facto substitute for the official aircraft used by some other global leaders.
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“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," said Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrats’ energy and climate spokesperson. “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," she added.
According to the Cabinet Office costings report, nearly another £20,000 was spent on additional expenses for the prime ministers, such as lodging, food, and visas. The report stated that this does not include the costs for officials who also went on the trips. The number of delegations ranged from the 19 who accompanied Truss to Prague to the 35 who joined Sunak in Bali.
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UK Oppn corners Sunak over wife Akshata's business interest
Meanwhile, the UK's Opposition parties are also mounting pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak over a recent Budget policy that could allegedly benefit his wife, Akshata Murty, through her business interest in a childcare firm.
Akshata Murty, the daughter of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy, is listed as a shareholder in Koru Kids Ltd which is likely to benefit from a new pilot scheme announced in the Spring Budget earlier this month to incentivise people to become childminders. While 10 Downing Street has stated that Prime Minister Sunak had followed the UK's ministerial code on the matter, the Opposition has called for further explanations.