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Air travel in modern BritainCourtesy Hieronymous Bosch

Rishi Sunak takes private jet from London to... Leeds

Apparently he couldn’t hack the LNER Azuma service from King’s Cross x

One of the biggest criticisms levelled at Rishi Sunak is that he’s out of touch. He’s a billionaire – what could he possibly know about the lives of normal people? About the price of bread? About the NHS? About food banks? Time and time again, he’s shown us that, as expected, he knows very little about how the 99.9 per cent live.

You’d think he’d be doing everything in his power to counter this perception of him as just another ignorant billionaire, but no! Just yesterday, the PM took a taxpayer-funded private jet to Leeds from London. There’s even a picture of him boarding the plane on the official No 10 Flickr account. According to The Guardian’s political editor Pippa Crerar, No 10 has said that Sunak took the jet as it was “the most efficient use of his limited time”. 

If Sunak had travelled by train, the journey would have taken around two and a half hours and cost him around £100. Some have pointed out that it may have even been quicker to get a train

It’s not the first time Rishi has been rinsed for his jet habit, either: in May last year, the then-Chancellor was slated after allegedly paying more than £10,000 to fly by private helicopter to a Tory dinner in Wales. On that occasion, Sunak apparently paid out of his own pocket for the round-trip from Battersea to the Conservative conference event in Newtown, Powys.

In July of last year, the British government set out a new “net zero aviation” policy, which was (supposedly) to achieve net zero emissions within UK domestic aviation by 2040. As if that wasn’t hypocritical enough, just a few months ago Sunak himself urged nations to stick to their climate commitments at the COP27 summit. “Fighting climate change is not just a moral good – it is fundamental to our future prosperity and security,” he said at the conference in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Evidently, Sunak expects other people to “fight climate change” – apparently he doesn’t bother himself with something as trivial as the planet dying. Private jets have a disproportionate impact on the environment, and in just one hour, a single private jet can emit two tonnes of CO2 – to use them at all is selfish, but to use them for a journey that can be done by train or car is especially reprehensible.

Granted, I understand that politicians need to travel for work. It’s actually good that they travel often and get to grips with what life is like outside the capital. But then if No 10 is claiming that getting to the north from the south takes too long, let’s have a conversation in Parliament about the state of public transport across the country. Let’s talk about why it’s so time-consuming and expensive to traverse the UK. Except we won’t, because of course Leeds was going to get a high-speed rail line to London as part of the HS2 development, until the Tories scrapped it. Lol.