Home secretary Suella Braverman arrives in a Chinook helicopter for a visit to the Manston immigration holding facility. (Photo: Gareth Fuller via PA Wire/PA Images)
Questions have been raised over the home secretary’s use of a military helicopter to tour chaotic immigration centres on England’s southern coast.
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.
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.
After landing, Braverman and her entourage were transferred from the helicopter to a black BMW with tinted windows.
The minister has faced widespread condemnation in recent days for characterising the influx of migrants as an “invasion”.
It costs about £3,500 an hour to keep a Chinook in the air. I guess we now know the cost of an embattled Home Secretary... 🚁 https://t.co/1SCeX3E4FN
— Richard Foord MP (@RichardFoordLD) November 3, 2022
The Home Office explained the minster took the helicopter to get a birds-eye view of efforts to tackle people smuggling in the English Channel.
It is understood the flight left the Coastguard HQ at around 1.25pm and arrived back to shore just after 2pm.
Braverman is under mounting political pressure over the illegal conditions at the Manston site, where at one point as many as 4,000 people were being detained for weeks in a site intended to hold 1,600 for a matter of days. The number has since reduced to 2,700, after more than 1,000 were moved in the last few days.
A Home Office spokesperson, 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.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.