David Davis takes £6,000 RAF flight to Brussels

Brexit secretary David Davis has been flying to Brussels and other European cities using RAF aircraft, costing thousands of pounds a go, while department colleagues use Eurostar.

This was one of a number of details published in today's transparency data, which has also revealed that a defence minister was handed a £1,000 pearl necklace, while the Prime Minister had to buy back one of her own gifts.

The accounts show that Davis used RAF aircraft on six occasions during between November 2017 and February 2018, with one journey to Brussels costing more than £6,440.

Department colleague Lord Callanan had to suffer the ignominy of travelling on Eurostar or scheduled flights, however.

Other figures show Davis' department, charged with leaving the EU, has handed the bloc £641,990 between November 2017 and February 2018 for the cost of translators. That period includes the run up to the joint agreement which was struck in December last year, paving the way for sufficient progress to be granted on phase two and opening the door to the trade talks – although the latter are still yet to begin.

They also show it has paid more than £4.5m to the government legal department (GLD) and over £1m to the Ministry of Defence, the latter for estate costs.

KPMG, McKinsey and Capita have all benefited from training and consultancy fees.

The FT received more than £30,000 for staff subscriptions during the five month period, while travel firms Clarity and Calder pocketed more than £300,000 in that time.

The government's data dump has also revealed that defence minister for procurement Harriet Baldwin received a £1000 pearl necklace from the manager of Ritz Carlton Hotel, Qatar.

Meanwhile her boss, defence secretary Gavin Williamson, was given a £200 traditional Qatari sword by his equivalent in the Emirate state.

The Foreign Office has been given a treasure trove of goodies, including a string of hampers, a case of wine and some gold cufflinks – although many of these have been kept by the department or used in official engagements.

According to the data, the Department for International Trade (DIT) was snubbed, with not a single gift received by Liam Fox, Greg Hands, Baroness Fairhead or Mark Garnier.

Theresa May appears to have been a victim of her own success, however. All the gifts listed between November and February were above the permitted value and so items including clothing from The White Company, wine and dates from Algeria, and a Rosewood vanity case from the vice premier of China, have either been retained by the Cabinet Office or used in official engagements.

One item – an unspecified watercolour painting given to the Prime Minister by Lord Moynihan – was bought by her directly, for an undisclosed sum.

Original Article

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