Rishi Sunak appears unfazed by growing climate concern within some in his own party and on the Left, as new figures reveal he has taken RAF jets and helicopters to domestic destinations more regularly than the last three prime ministers.
Ministry of Defence data obtained by the BBC reveals the PM took almost a flight a week during his seven months in Number 10.
Mr Sunak has been accused of hypocrisy for pledging to curb climate emissions while taking to the skies for short trips across the UK.
He previously defended the use of aircraft for domestic journeys, saying that flying was “the most effective use of my time”.
Following a BBC Freedom of Information request, it emerged that Mr Sunak boarded a Dassault Falcon 900LX jet or a helicopter 23 times in 187 days, which averages out as one every eight days.
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The PM has also accepted more than £70,000 worth of private jet and helicopter travel to Conservative Party events from political donors in 2023.
The PM’s decision-making around air travel was called into question when he took flights to Newquay, Dover and Leeds earlier this year.
In July, he said that anyone who says “no one should take a plane” in their attempts to tackle climate change were “completely and utterly wrong”.
Attacking the multimillionaire, Labour said he was “developing an expensive habit of swanning around on private jets courtesy of the taxpayer”.
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Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner suggested that Mr Sunak had breached the ministerial code by using air travel when it is not essential. The code states that flights can only be taken if they are scheduled or if “it is essential to travel by air”.
At the COP27 climate summit last year, the Winchester-educated Yorkshire MP said that it was “morally right to honour” the UK’s promise to cut carbon emissions.
The UK introduced a legally binding commitment to reach net zero by 2050 at the end of the May administration.
Anna Hughes, from Flight Free UK – a campaign which encourages people to fly less to help reduce emissions – said the amount the PM flew was “frustrating”.
She added that if leaders demonstrated “the kind of behaviour that we all need to adopt to avert the climate crisis, it communicates that it’s serious and real”.
She went on: “You can’t just say I’m the prime minister, I’m too busy and important”.
A Number 10 spokesperson said that ministers “sometimes require the use of non-commercial air travel.
“This is a standard practice for governments around the world and this has consistently been the case under successive UK administrations of all political colours.
“Value for money, security, and time efficiency is taken into account in all travel decisions and all flights are carbon offset.”
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