Politicians flying high: Tory and Labour MPs travel by helicopter for free
Complimentary chopper rides are becoming more popular among parliamentarians.
Earlier this year, eyebrows were raised across Westminster when it emerged that George Osborne had taken an £8,000 helicopter ride to a Tory fundraising dinner.
The then chancellor’s freebie was paid for by property firm Countywide Developments and was said by the Guido Fawkes website to have "bemused Tory MPs and amused leadership rivals".
And now it seems that other politicians further down the food chain might want to emulate the ex-chancellor.
It has emerged that Chris Heaton Harris took exactly the same approach as Osborne to a recent Tory fundraiser. The Daventry MP enjoyed a return chopper flight from Northamptonshire to the Tory event in Yorkshire on 1 July. The £1,865 flight was paid for by businessman Sanjeev Gupta.
But it is not just Tory MPs who have been travelling by helicopter this year. Also getting in on the act in recent weeks was Labour’s Emily Thornberry. The shadow defence secretary and an “assistant” were treated to a £1, 460 helicopter ride when she visited defence firm Agusta Westland in June.
TP understands that Thornberry spent a day in discussion with the firm about their ability to compete for defence contracts against US firms, part of which included a round-trip from Battersea to their headquarters in Yeovil.
However sources close to Thornberry insist that – unlike certain Tory MPs – the MP for Islington South was not simply trying to travel in style.
One says: “It's more that when you visit a defence company that manufactures helicopters, to get to understand their business they like to give you some first-hand experience.”
During his time as mayor of London, Boris Johnson did like to travel in style – including taking a helicopter ride over Hong Kong as part of a visit to China to promote trade between the far east and London.
It is understood that no sitting MP has matched Johnson's chopper exploits. Yet.
Picture by: Andrew Parsons/PA Archive/Press Association Images