Reports from UK-based media outlets have criticised British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for taking a helicopter for a short trip from Southampton to London and back. According to these reports, the journey could have been covered in just over an hour on the train, and the £1,000-an-hour journey has been labelled a “photo opportunity” as Sunak travelled to Southampton to promote a policy. The flight records show that the copter left from RAF Northolt and landed at Wellington Barracks in Westminster to pick up Sunak before returning to Battersea Heliport in London.
Critics of the prime minister pointed out that this journey was an unnecessary use of taxpayer funds and that the money would have been better spent elsewhere. Meanwhile, the prime minister’s spokesperson defended the trip, stating that his mode of transport varies depending on his schedule and that he wants to make the most effective use of his time.
This is not the first time that Sunak has been criticised for his use of luxury transportation. He previously used a taxpayer-funded private jet to Scotland to launch “green” tax breaks, and he has also used the plane to make short trips to Blackpool and Leeds. Such incidents have highlighted his taste for luxury, and members of the opposition and citizens have pointed out that he should be more mindful of the optics of his actions.
The controversy surrounding this trip has emerged amid a cost-of-living crisis in the UK, which is expected to worsen further. The Bank of England recently lifted its key interest rate to the highest level since the 2008 financial crisis, and inflation remains stubbornly high. The economy is expected to avoid a recession this year, but the cost-of-living crisis continues to affect people across the country. A recent survey showed that 10% of young adults admit to shoplifting, as the prices for basic necessities continue to rise more quickly than household earnings.