Tories spent £800,000 painting union flag on ministerial plane


Boris Johnson splashed out almost £800,000 of taxpayers' money to paint a union flag on a ministerial plane.

The former Prime Minister triggered fury in 2020 when it emerged the Government spent £900,000 respraying an RAF Voyager so he could fly around the world in a red, white and blue plane.

The Airbus A330, which is used usually as a refuelling tanker, was originally military grey. Now, the Mirror reports, a freedom of information request from the Taxpayers Alliance discovered the ex-PM spent another £800,000 sprucing up a smaller Airbus A321 which the Government leases from charter firm Titan Airways.

It means a total of £1.7million has been spent repainting planes. The second aircraft was modified so it too bore the Union Flag across its fuselage and tail fin in what the Cabinet Office calls “the Global UK branding”.

Titan later swapped the plane for an identical model. This was supplied with the same livery.

Current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak frequently uses the red, white and blue plane, and is due to fly aboard it to the NATO summit in Lithuania. The aircraft is designed for smaller journeys and, unlike the Voyager, it has WiFi coverage, meaning occupants can communicate while airborne.

Speaking to the Sunday People, Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry said: "We’ve seen a succession of Tory Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries addicted to the private jet lifestyle, and it is high time they were honest with the British people about how much that is all costing, rather than having the figures forced out of them like this.

“There was never any public debate about the costs and benefits of leasing a second government plane, and the higher those costs grow, the more we need to know what benefit the taxpayer is getting in return.”

TaxPayers' Alliance campaign manager Conor Holohan said: “Taxpayers will be livid at the sky high cost of this paint job. Ministers should rein in their love of luxury.”

Zap Air Holdings, the company that owns Titan, announced in its annual report that it had launched an affiliate company, Titan Airways Malta, to stop it losing money because of Brexit. They wrote that the firm would “mitigate against the potential loss of intra-European Union revenues.”

The Cabinet Office initially tried to keep secret the cost of painting the Titan Airways jet. But was forced to reveal the price following a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Replying to the freedom of information request, it said: “The total cost of painting the aircraft in question with the Union Jack was £783,940. The branding of this aircraft with the Union Flag was an intentional Government policy to project the role of the United Kingdom on the international stage.”

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