Boris’s jet makeover will cost £900,000
BORIS Johnson’s red, white and blue paint job on his RAF Voyager plane will cost taxpayers £900,000, it emerged yesterday.
The Ministry of Defence is paying for the makeover, which will see the aircraft repainted from grey to an ‘Austin Powers’-style Union Jack theme.
The huge bill for the work was last night condemned by MPs as a ‘colossal waste of taxpayers’ money’ that would be better spent on school meal vouchers for poor children or coronavirus treatments.
But RAF sources defended the cost, saying it was a ‘complex’ job which involves removing bits of equipment from the plane first, adding: ‘This isn’t your Ford Escort in Halfords having a wing resprayed.’
The RAF A330 Voyager is being repainted in a hangar in Cambridgeshire by British company Marshall Group and is expected to be unveiled next week. The PM signed off the cost of the makeover.
Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the defence committee, said the Cabinet Office should pick up the bill. He said: ‘I’m hugely supportive of greater patriotism, but with a price tag of £900,000 I’m not sure this is currently a wise use of taxpayers’ money.
‘I hope the bill will be directed to the Cabinet Office and not the MoD which is already financially overstretched.’
SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald said: ‘Boris Johnson is taking yet another page out of the Trumpian playbook with this cynical move – distracting from the reality of his Government and chief adviser’s conduct over the past few months.’
But the Prime Minister’s spokesman said the repainting ‘will mean that the plane can better represent the UK around the world with national branding, similar to many other leaders’ planes’.
The spokesman defended the £900,000 cost, saying: ‘That incorporates the cost of creating a design that will promote the UK around the world without compromising the plane’s vital military role.
‘At every stage we have worked to ensure value for money for the UK taxpayer and all of the work has been undertaken in the UK, directly benefiting British suppliers.’
At yesterday’s daily press briefing, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: ‘We’ve always spent money on promoting the UK around the world... I think the work on Voyager is part of that promotion.’
The inside of the plane was given a makeover under David Cameron’s premiership to the tune of £10million. A defence source told Sky News that the paint job sounded like something ‘from Austin Powers’.
Mr Johnson previously questioned why the plane was grey, saying he would like a ‘Brexit plane’ for him to travel the world and promote the Government’s vision of global Britain in.