The recent revelation that Rishi Sunak personally intervened to save a £40 million helicopter contract for VIP transport has sparked public debate about the use of public funds and the prime minister’s own travel habits.
L ast August, Ben Wallace, the former Defence Secretary, decided to terminate the £40 million contract for the two VIP helicopters used by the prime minister. A decision based on the grounds of cost-effectiveness and the availability of alternative transportation options, particularly public transport.
Rishi Sunak then personally intervened to prevent the cancellation of the contract with Sloane Helicopters, a Northamptonshire-based company. The PM’s decision has drawn criticism from various quarters, with opponents questioning the cost-effectiveness and environmental impact of such lavish transportation arrangements.
The controversy surrounding the helicopter contract stems from Sunak’s frequent use of helicopters, particularly for relatively short domestic journeys. In May 2023, he took an expensive helicopter flight from London to Southampton for a trip that could have been easily covered by public transport. Similarly, in June, he opted for an RAF helicopter to travel from London to Dover for a speech, a journey that could have been accomplished by high-speed rail.