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Menopausal Mother Nature

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Sunak uses helicopter and jet for short trips within 24 hours

Sunak uses helicopter and jet for short trips within 24 hours

Rishi Sunak returned to London from Dorset by helicopter on Wednesday evening and flew back to south-west England by jet the next morning, Downing Street has said, in the latest example of the prime minister’s fondness for short-distance air travel.

Sunak, who has made recent private helicopter trips to his constituency in North Yorkshire, was at Lulworth military base in Dorset for a press conference with the visiting Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on Wednesday.

The next morning he visited a family hub in St Austell, Cornwall. But rather than stay overnight and travel the 140 miles between the engagements, Sunak flew to and then from London, a round trip of nearly 400 miles.

“He flew down this morning. I can’t say how he’s getting back,” Sunak’s official spokesperson said, confirming the flight to St Austell was in a jet. The prime minister left Dorset by helicopter, the spokesperson added. This is understood to have been an RAF Chinook.

The Labour chair, Anneliese Dodds, tweeted: “Is it any wonder jet-setting Rishi Sunak doesn’t understand the state of public transport in this country? This out of touch prime minister should spend less time looking down on our rail network and more time experiencing it.” She added: “Tweeted onboard a train home from Plymouth.”

The Liberal Democrats’ energy and climate spokesperson, Wera Hobhouse, questioned why Sunak had not stayed overnight. “Since taking on the premiership, Sunak has played a reckless game with CO2 emissions and rendered any green targets pledged by his government as laughable.”

Carla Denyer, the Greens’ co-leader, said the prime minister should show “leadership in reducing his carbon footprint – instead he is insulting everyone who is trying to do their bit for the environment”.

The Guardian previously discovered that in November and December, Sunak took private helicopter trips costing about £16,000 from a London heliport to his Richmond constituency in North Yorkshire.

These helicopter trips were privately funded, whereas the flights from Dorset and to Cornwall would be paid for by taxpayers.

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Sunak’s travel habits have been criticised for damaging his credibility over tackling the climate crisis, and for perceived elitism. No 10 argues his travel is arranged to make the best use of his time. A Downing Street source said the prime minister had late meetings in London on Wednesday.

Last month Sunak’s travel preferences were highlighted when he took domestic flights in RAF jets three times in 10 days. He took a 40-minute flight on a 14-seat aircraft to an event in Blackpool, Lancashire, where he took questions from the public. It came after flights to Scotland and Leeds.

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