Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Blairforce Two

The British PM is to get two dedicated jets for official visits.

Fantastic: now he'll be able to globe-trot in the style US presidents are accustomed to.

Until now Blair has used ageing military planes or has chartered commercial aircraft.

Last week there was embarrassment when he turned up at the EU summit in a plane with Austrian insignia on it.

Political opponents have accused the PM of wasting tax-payers money at a time when public services are seriously underfunded, implying he is overly fond of the perks of his job.

However, since the fleet, already dubbed "Blairforce Two" by the media, will not come into service until late 2007 or 2008 - Blair is expected to step down before the next election - it's likely to be of more benefit to his successor.

The planes will be leased and are expected to cost about £12.3m per year.

This is between £1.2m and £1.5m more expensive than the current arrangement, but the extra cost, said a spokesman, will be met by other departments and not the treasury.

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