Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Monday, August 3, 1998 Published at 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK


Blair flies into trouble

The plane at the centre of the storm

The UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has come under fire for taking a family holiday in a plane normally reserved for royals and senior ministers on official trips.

Mr Blair says use of the royal flight aircraft was justified because he met Italian premier Romano Prodi before starting a two week holiday.

Mr Blair, his wife Cherie, their three children and his mother-in-law travelled on the Royal Air Force jet on Saturday.

His Downing Street office said it was proper that Blair should not pay for his seat.

A spokesman added that fares for the rest of his family had been paid for.

The Sun newspaper attacked Blair for taking a "freebie" at the expense of British tax-payers.

And it pointed out that rather than having to join other travellers at a civilian airport, the Blairs had travelled tax-free from RAF Northolt.

The Mirror, which normally supports Mr Blair, said the prime minister appeared to be developing "a worrying taste for the trappings of power".

'Blair Force One'

[ image: The Queen and Tony Blair: Said to be in disagreement over plans for the plane]
The Queen and Tony Blair: Said to be in disagreement over plans for the plane
The prime minister was also criticised over reports alleging that he had blocked cost-cutting proposals to share a plane with the Queen, because they cannot agree on the size of the craft.

The Queen is reported to favour a 19-seater executive jet.

But Mr Blair is said to prefer a much larger Airbus to accommodate his entourage of aides, security staff and journalists.

The Sun has dubbed the plane "Blair Force One", drawing on similarities with the aircraft used by the US president.

Blair's office said the royal proposal for a shared plane was under consideration and no decision had yet been made.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Internet Links

Central Office of Information

The British Monarchy

UK Parliament

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online