Boris Johnson’s purple, white and blue paint job on the prime ministerial aircraft is costing the UK taxpayer £900,000, his official spokesman has mentioned.
The spokesman confirmed that the RAF Voyager, beforehand colored gray, is in Cambridgeshire for a makeover.
“The RAF Voyager utilized by the royal household and the PM is at present in Cambridgeshire for pre-planned repainting. This may imply that the aircraft can higher characterize the UK all over the world with nationwide branding, which might be according to many different leaders’ planes,” he mentioned. He added that it might proceed to carry out its different job, refuelling army jets.
The mission was condemned as a waste of public cash by opposition events.
Labour frontbencher Louise Haigh mentioned: “When households throughout the nation are frightened about their jobs, well being and the training of their kids, they may rightly query the federal government’s priorities when they’re spending nearly £1m redecorating a aircraft.”
SNP MP Stewart McDonald mentioned: “That is an totally unacceptable use of public funds while members of the armed forces are spending their very own cash on uniforms and package, and the tools plan deficit is nicely into the billions for a number of years working.”
Tradition secretary Oliver Dowden claimed the expenditure was justified, as a result of the repainted aircraft would assist to advertise the UK all over the world. “We now have at all times spent cash on selling the UK all over the world. I see this with inventive industries, and we actually are a inventive industries superpower, and we ought to be selling that. I feel the work on the Voyager is a part of that promotion,” he instructed Wednesday’s every day No 10 press briefing.
Johnson’s spokesman mentioned that the value tag included the price of making a design that can “promote the UK all over the world with out compromising the aircraft’s very important army function” – and careworn that British companies would do the work.
Requested whether or not the rebranding had been Johnson’s concept, the spokesman mentioned: “The PM authorized the choice.”
On a visit to South America as overseas secretary two years in the past, Johnson mentioned the Voyager, then Theresa Might’s aircraft, was not obtainable to him typically sufficient – and complained about its uninteresting color scheme.
“What I’ll say concerning the Voyager, I feel it’s nice, but it surely appears to be very troublesome to pay money for.” He added: “And likewise, why does it need to be gray?”
One purpose for the gray color scheme is that the aircraft’s twin use means it must be camouflaged. Nonetheless, in an try at compromise, one supply mentioned that the physique of the aircraft would now be painted white with a blue stripe – whereas the tail fin could be painted in a union flag design.
This might make it look much like a British Airways aircraft, however will current one thing of a headache for air drive commanders who know that the Voyager could be extra seen to enemy air forces in addition to being identifiable because the UK’s principal VIP aircraft.
In addition to the prime minister, the aircraft is utilized by the royal household and is staffed by the RAF. It’s unclear when Johnson will first journey on the Voyager with its new livery.
Johnson’s plans for the plane emerged on Tuesday, as he was asserting a serious shake-up within the UK’s method to overseas coverage, merging the Department for International Development into the Foreign Office.
He made clear the shift would result in commerce and safety concerns taking part in a higher function in figuring out the UK’s relationship with low-income nations – with the overseas secretary, Dominic Raab, making the ultimate choice about which nations will obtain official help.
Defence sources confirmed on Tuesday the aircraft was being repainted at a specialist safe hangar run by Marshall Aerospace close to Cambridge.
If Johnson desires to extend the federal government’s entry to the aircraft by shopping for extra flying hours from the Ministry of Defence, it may enhance the knock-on prices to the taxpayer as a result of the army might be compelled to constitution plane for its personal wants.
Andy Netherwood, a defence analyst, mentioned: “The paint scheme offers away the truth that No 10 is re-purposing an plane acquired to supply defence. If Johnson desires a VIP jet tremendous, however make the argument and pay for it.”
The Voyager is one in all a fleet of transport planes leased to the Ministry of Defence by a consortium of aerospace corporations known as Air Tanker, and was refitted with a VIP part when David Cameron was prime minister at a value of £10m.
— to www.theguardian.com