LONDON (AP) — A Royal Air Force plane used by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on official trips is getting a red, white and blue paint job at a cost of almost 1 million pounds ($1.25 million).
Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, said Wednesday that the gray RAF Voyager was being painted in the colors of the Union Jack to “better represent the U.K. around the world, with national branding similar to other leaders’ planes.”
Unlike some other world leaders, British prime ministers don’t have a plane of their own. A plan in the early 2000s by former Prime Minister Tony Blair to buy a government jet — dubbed “Blair Force One” — was later scrapped to save money.
The Voyager also carries other senior ministers and members of the royal family on overseas trips, and is used by the air force for air-to-air refueling.
Johnson complained in 2018 about the drab official plane, asking “why does it have to be gray?” and saying he would like a “Brexit plane” to help promote the U.K. around the world.
Johnson’s office said the paint job, estimated to cost 900,000 pounds, wouldn’t affect the plane’s military role.
But opposition Labour Party lawmaker Louise Haigh questioned the wisdom of “spending almost a million pounds redecorating a plane which in all likelihood has been grounded for months because of the coronavirus” pandemic.