Boris Johnson took private jet to Blackpool despite 3-hour train journey, LBC reveals

3 February 2022, 21:38 | Updated: 4 February 2022, 16:00

Boris Johnson used a private jet to travel to north-west England on Thursday.
Boris Johnson used a private jet to travel to north-west England on Thursday. Picture: Alamy

By Ben Kentish

Boris Johnson used a private jet to travel to north-west England on Thursday morning despite the journey taking just 3 hours by train, LBC can reveal.

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The Prime Minister flew from London Stansted to Warton Airport on a government charter plane and was due to fly back on Thursday evening.

The flight takes around 40 minutes each way, but would also involve up to around a 2 hour and 30 minute round trip by car from Downing Street to London Stansted and back again.

The journey by car and plane is estimated to have taken Mr Johnson and his team around 2 hours 30 minutes. This is only an hour less than the 3.5-hour journey had the Prime Minister taken the train from London Euston, which takes 3 hours and 7 minutes to get to Blackpool. London Euston is just a 17-minute drive from Downing Street.

LBC has calculated that the trip on the government plane would be expected to have emitted several tons of greenhouse gases and is also likely to have been significantly more costly to the taxpayer than the cheaper, greener alternative of taking the train.

Mr Johnson's flight took off from London Standard at 10.46am, suggesting he would have had to have left Downing Street shortly after 9am.

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Had he instead taken the 9.10am train from Euston, he would have arrived in Blackpool at 12.16pm – only around 50 minutes later than he did by flying.

Environmental campaigners told LBC that the decision to fly to the north-west was "shocking".

Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: "Flying to Blackpool sends entirely the wrong message about what sort of transport future we want. This is shocking from a Prime Minister who talks the talk on tackling climate change.

"Boris Johnson should have caught the train instead and emitted a tiny fraction of the carbon emissions.

"We will be happy to post a train timetable to 10 Downing Street if he needs a little help to travel the clean, green, responsible way."

Labour accused Mr Johnson of wasting taxpayers' money. The party's deputy leader, Angela Rayner, told LBC: "Boris Johnson and his government demonstrate time and time again how little respect they have for our money.

"Just days after he has written off £4.3 billion lost to fraud, the Prime Minister is yet again playing fast and loose with taxpayers' cash.

"Coming on top of billions spent on crony contracts, these decisions destroy any claim that the Conservatives can be trusted with public finances."

A spokesperson for Greenpeace UK said: “For a prime minister who likes to boast about climate leadership, Boris Johnson has developed an unhelpful habit of flying short distances when a train journey would have been greener, cheaper and not that much longer.

"If the UK is to cut planet-heating emissions from transport, we absolutely need to make rail journeys more attractive than flights. Shame that the PM is not leading by example.”

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The government has previously faced questions over its use of private jets, particularly given its commitment to the UK reaching net zero by 2050.

In November, Mr Johnson was slammed for using a government plane to fly home from the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

And last week, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss came under fire for using the government jet to travel to Australia at an estimated cost of £500,000.

But, asked about the latest trip, a No10 spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister uses a variety of transport in order to conduct business safely and efficiently, including trains. All travel decisions are made with consideration for security and time restraints."