David Davis ‘blew £10,000 on RAF flights’ to meetings

David Davis was last night accused of squandering almost £50,000 of public money on private military flights to attend Brexit meetings.

The Brexit Secretary has commandeered RAF jets 11 times to fly to and from Europe over the past year.

Just one of his VIP trips, shuttling between Brussels, Madrid and Rome in two days, cost taxpayers a staggering £9,000, official figures reveal.

Meanwhile, junior Ministers and top officials in his Department for Exiting the European Union have made do with far cheaper commercial airline flights or rail journeys on Eurostar.

Last night Labour MP Stephen Doughty wrote to the Cabinet Office asking if the costly jaunts had broken the ministerial code, which requires that travel be cost-effective.

He said: ‘Of course David Davis’s role requires frequent travel to European capitals, but there is no reason why he could not use cheaper commercial services.

‘The public voted for Brexit to save money for our public services, not blow it on Air David Davis.’

It is believed that when he took up his high-profile role in July 2016, Mr Davis demanded the use of the Prime Minister’s official aircraft – a converted RAF Voyager – to fly to meetings with key EU figures.

He is said to have faced opposition from senior civil servants who said they ‘didn’t see why DD should be whisked by private jet across Europe’. But eventually he got his way.

Travel documents published by his department show his first three trips to Europe were on scheduled flights and Eurostar. But by December 2016, he and four officials were flying with No 32 (The Royal) Squadron from RAF Northolt in North-West London to Madrid and Seville, at a cost of £1,708, as talk swirled of ‘war’ with Spain over the future of Gibraltar.

A military trip to Finland and Sweden in February cost £5,243. The next month a visit to Denmark, Germany and Slovakia cost £4,298. In April, Mr Davis and five aides went to Budapest, Rome and Warsaw in RAF planes, at a cost of £6,583.

Travel documents published by his department show his first three trips to Europe were on scheduled flights and Eurostar

A trip to Brussels in July, where he held just one hour of talks with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, cost taxpayers £2,411 – the vast majority on a private flight.

In September he returned to Brussels for the fourth round of Brexit negotiations, using an RAF plane that cost £5,207.

Including other trips to European capitals, such as Prague, Mr Davis’s trips on RAF aircraft cost a total of £47,447 between July 2016 and September this year.

A spokesman for his department said last night: ‘The Brexit negotiations are critical to the nation’s future and it is right that the Secretary of State has access to whatever mode of transport is most appropriate.

‘RAF aircraft have been used to transport senior Ministers from governments over many years because they provide security, flexibility and value for money, especially when travelling in large groups and in multi- legged trips.’

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