Downing Street defends Home Secretary’s use of helicopter during Kent visit

Downing Street has defended the Home Secretary’s use of a military helicopter during her visit to Kent.

Suella Braverman arrived at the Manston migrant holding centre near Ramsgate on Thursday in a Chinook helicopter, having earlier visited Dover to view the Western Jet Foil immigration facility and meet the Coastguard.

The distance between Dover and Manston is about 20 miles by road and could take around 40 minutes to drive.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
The Home Secretary flew between her visits to Dover and Manston in Kent on Thursday (Gareth Fuller/PA)

According to defence analysts writing for the UK Defence Journal, a Chinook costs about £3,500 per hour to fly.

The helicopter’s maximum speed is 302km per hour (about 187mph), according to its manufacturer, Boeing.

The Home Office said the flight left the Dover coastguard’s headquarters at 1.25pm and touched down at Manston just after 2pm.

The rest of the day’s journeys were made by car and the helicopter – which was on standby for operations – would have been used for a higher priority task instead if one materialised, the department stressed.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “The Home Secretary was in Dover to receive an update on operations on the ground.

“That obviously involved operations in the Channel.

“She travelled on a military aircraft to see the area of operations at sea.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “As part of the Home Secretary’s efforts to tackle vile people smuggling in the Channel, the Home Secretary was briefed by Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, Dan O’Mahoney in Dover.

“The Home Secretary then travelled in a military aircraft with Mr O’Mahoney to get a view of operations in the Channel first hand.”