Tuesday 24 August 2021 / 4:01 PM Anneliese Dodds

Labour demands to see proof Boris Johnson wasn’t “taking taxpayers for a ride” when using government jet for campaign trip

The Labour Party Chair, Anneliese Dodds, has written to her opposite number, Amanda Milling, asking to see proof that the Prime Minister did not breach the Ministerial Code when he used a taxpayer-funded plane to make a trip to Hartlepool and campaign for the Conservative candidate in a by-election.

The Ministerial Code makes clear that government resources cannot be used for Party political reasons, and that where a Minister undertakes a visit which combines official and party political business, both the department and the Party must “each meet a proper proportion of the actual cost”. Yet even though the Prime Minister’s 1 April trip to Hartlepool included political campaigning – a fact acknowledged both by the candidate, Jill Mortimer, and the Prime Minister’s spokesperson – the Conservative Party declared “nil” for travel expenses for the whole by-election campaign.

In her letter, Dodds points out that the cost of a private jet making the same return journey as the Prime Minister would cost nearly £7,000, and so it would appear impossible for the political element of his visit to cost £0 as a proportion of the whole trip. Dodds says: “The only conclusion I can draw is that your party chose to bill the taxpayer for Boris Johnson’s travel expenses.”

Dodds asks Milling to prove that the Prime Minister and his Party have not broken the rules – by publishing a receipt showing that the Conservative Party reimbursed the Cabinet Office for part of the cost of the flight, and that this was accounted for in the Party’s by-election declarations.

Anneliese Dodds MP, Chair of the Labour Party, said:

“Not for the first time, it looks like Boris Johnson has been taking taxpayers for a ride.

“Even by his standards, declaring that travel costs were ‘nil’ for a trip that saw him fly hundreds of miles in a Government plane and hit the campaign trail is outrageously brazen.

“The Conservative Party needs to publish the documents that show they weren’t using public money for party political ends. There can’t be one rule for them and another for everyone else.”