Ministerial travel costs soar following Brexit vote

Posted On: 
17th April 2017

Ministers spent more than £1.3m on travel in the six months following the Brexit vote, new figures have revealed.

Travel costs rose following Britain's decision to quit the EU
PA Images

The Foreign Office increased its travel budget by more than 70% to £260,000, despite the department losing responsibility for Europe policy, according to The Times.

The newly created Department for International Trade spent £131,000 as Liam Fox and his ministers attempted to drum up support for new trade deals in India, the US, the United Arab Emirates and South America.

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The figures show that travel to Brussels fell, with the Department for Exiting the European Union spending just £4,430 after the vote, with ministers making 32 visits to the Belgian capital in the second half of last year, compared to 45 in the first. 

Theresa May had the largest travel bill of any minister, but the £639,000 spent marks a substantial decrease, with the acquisition of an RAF plane making the Prime Minister's travel cheaper than the previous chartering of commercial aircraft. 

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said the figures proved there was a “colossal waste of cash”.

“Boris jetting around the world on the apology tour, saying sorry to every nation he has offended over the previous decade, isn’t worth the cost," he said. 

“These people are supposed to be the diplomatic face of Britain post-Brexit, but have nothing to show apart from massive expenses.”

Harry Davis, campaign manager at the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “With Britain now leaving the EU, ministers are going to want to promote Britain abroad."

“But these are large amounts of money to spend on air travel and it’s important that ministers remember taxpayers will be paying for the flights.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office, whose ministers led the table with trips to more than 50 countries, said: “Boosting trade opportunities is often a part of these visits but they also involve building partnerships on peacekeeping and defeating extremism.

“Since taking office the Foreign Secretary has visited countries such as Afghanistan, India, Somalia and Ukraine, he has also attended international talks at the UN General Assembly in New York and on Cyprus settlement.”