Social media has been abuzz with reaction after it was revealed the prime minister broke the Ministerial Code by jetting to Hartlepool during the by-election on taxpayer funds.
Johnson flew by private jet from London Stansted to Teesside International Airport and met with Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer for a visit to the local company Hart Biologicals, supporting her campaign in the constituency.
The pair then visited a nearby housing estate for doorknocking, leafleting, and speaking to residents.
But the trip was not included in the party’s spending return, which was obtained by Insider, which says the candidate spent nothing on transport.
Electoral Commission guidance says transport costs should include the cost of transporting “party members, including staff members […] around the electoral area, or to and from the electoral area […] where they are undertaking campaigning on behalf of the candidate.”
Parties can spend up to £100,000 in by-elections. The Conservatives, they say, spent a total of £86,991.77.
The rules don’t apply to him
Reacting to the news, Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “Yet again the Prime Minister behaves like the rules don’t apply to him. Taxpayers’ money should not be abused to fund the Conservative Party’s election campaigns.
“The Prime Minister has clearly broken the Ministerial Code, and this time he can’t play ignorant and pretend that he didn’t know what was going on.
“The contempt with which the Prime Minister treats the laws governing election expenses and the rules that are supposed to uphold standards in our public life shows that he is only ever interested in helping himself, not acting in the interests of the British people.”
In Scotland, The National newspaper has called on Douglas Ross to speak up about the Ministerial Code breach, particularly given how vocal he has been about the consequences of Nicola Sturgeon breaking the rules.
Today’s front page ?️— The National (@ScotNational) August 24, 2021
Speak up, Douglas!
Scottish Tory leader urged to break silence on Boris Johnson’s ‘ministerial code breach’ pic.twitter.com/LnCg5awyXi
Otheres were similarly bemused, with Insider’s Playbook dubbing the flight ‘Sleazyjet’ and others saying “can’t wait for the consequences”.
Playbook this morning, which goes with “Hartlepool Globetrotter”. Read what an Independent commenter called “Sleazyjet” here: https://t.co/oPXjXpJy4i https://t.co/6sqvLHXBue pic.twitter.com/8NZHsUSmWX— Henry Dyer (@Direthoughts) August 24, 2021
He’s done it again— Marina Purkiss (@MarinaPurkiss) August 23, 2021
He’s broken ministerial code
This time by using Govt funds to pay for his London to Teeside jet so he could do party campaigning
Can’t wait for the consequences
Here’s a pick of the reaction elsewhere:
This could be devastating for Boris Johnson once it’s looked at by the man who decides what happens when the ministerial code is breached, Boris Johnson. https://t.co/5qYMsVzjB5— David Schneider (@davidschneider) August 23, 2021
An obvious breach of the ministerial code. I wonder what the man Johnson hired, explicitly never to find anyone to have broken the ministerial code, will find. ~AA— Best for Britain (@BestForBritain) August 23, 2021
Boris Johnson Used Public Funds in Hartlepool Campaign, Return Suggests https://t.co/sfdnzIEClY
Don’t worry, I’ll make sure that this is fully investigated before deciding that no further action is required. https://t.co/T30W26r0CP— Parody Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson_MP) August 23, 2021