The red, white and blue makeover for Boris Johnson’s RAF plane will cost the taxpayer close to a million pounds, it was revealed today.
The Voyager aircraft used by the PM on foreign trips is to get ‘national branding’, rather than the standard grey that makes it less visible in the sky.
The idea has been ridiculed on social media, with suggestions that Mr Johnson will look like Austin Powers on tour.
And Downing Street disclosed this afternoon that the paint job will cost £900,000. ‘At every stage, we have undertaken to ensure value for money,’ a spokesman said.
An RAF source said: ‘Boris and others will use it to go around the world and wave the British flag.
‘It will be diplomatic and it will be appropriate. I imagine it will be in great demand when it gets its new and smart paint job.’
The source played down the prospect of a lurid Austin Powers look for the plane, adding: ‘The aircraft will not be a flying Union Jack. It won’t be the whole of the airplane, it will be a part of it.’
A defence source added that the new design would be ‘understated’.
Pictured: How the Royal Air Force Airbus Voyager could look after its red, white and blue makeover
The Voyager aircraft used by the PM (pictured in Downing Street today) on foreign trips is to get ‘national branding’, rather than the standard grey that makes it less visible in the sky
Red, white and blue will be painted on the rear of its fuselage and up the fin. It is expected to be unveiled in the coming days.
The interior of the Voyager had a £10million makeover in 2016, when David Cameron was prime minister. Mr Johnson and other ministers, as well as members of the Royal Family, will be allowed to use the plane, which will also continue to be used as a refuelling aircraft.
An RAF source said the plane could be changed back to grey ‘very quickly’ if deemed necessary in a wartime scenario.
‘It will have a lot of functionalities. If we went to war, and all the assets needed to deploy to the Middle East for example, we would change the colour,’ they said.
The RAF source noted that planes were painted a sandy shade of pink for the Gulf wars.
In May 2018 Mr Johnson asked why the Voyager needed to be grey as he said he needed his own plane in order to boost Britain’s post-Brexit trade prospects.
Speaking when he was foreign secretary, he said he and other Cabinet ministers needed another aircraft as the Voyager, used by Mr Cameron when he was prime minister, was rarely available.
He said: ‘What I will say about the Voyager, I think it’s great, but it seems to be very difficult to get hold of… I don’t know who uses it, but it never seems to be available.’
Mr Johnson added that it was ‘striking’ such a plane did not yet exist and suggested that it could be a different colour.
He added: ‘And also, why does it have to be grey? The taxpayers won’t want us to have some luxurious new plane. But I certainly think it’s striking that we don’t seem to have access to such a thing at the moment.’
A spokesman for the RAF said: ‘An RAF Voyager is currently in Cambridgeshire for pre-planned works.’
File photo dated 25/07/17 of an RAF Voyager used by the Prime Minister and members of the royal family which is being repainted in the colours of the Union flag
Twitter users posted a series of memes today after it emerged Boris Johnson will get a red, white and blue RAF jet so he and senior royals can fly the flag abroad.
The grey Voyager transport aircraft is being painted in the colours of the Union Jack at an airport in Cambridge in a move expected to cost tens of thousands of pounds.
And social media users reacted after a source told Sky News the paint job sounded like something ‘from Austin Powers’ – the hit comedy films featuring a British spy, played by Mike Myers, who drives a Jaguar E-type in the colours of the Union Jack.
His character also flew around in a psychedelic-coloured Boeing 747 plane, which some people referenced when tweeting about the story.
Others pointed out how it came as the Government had to reverse its decision not to provide free school meals this summer after a campaign led by footballer Marcus Rashford.
Twitter user Hollerella said: ‘Sorry Marcus Rashford et al had to practically beg our government to feed children, yet our government was busy getting funding for what can only be described as an Austin Powers themed jet? Priorities, Boris. Jesus.’
Another, Rory Green, said: ‘Oi Boris Johnson didn’t wanna give kids lunch over the Summer because he wanted to spend your money painting a jet red white and blue.’
A further Twitter user pointed out the rather unfortunate shape of the aircraft, with a picture of a phallic-shaped plane captioned: ‘Boris’s new jet’.