MPs’ Drunkenness Comes to Light on Armistice Day

MPs were criticised for their ‘drunkenness’ on Armistice Day, after a late-night party in Gibraltar. The MPs had been invited to attend an event at the Royal Navy’s Gibraltar base and flew back from the southern European territory last night.

But when they arrived back in Britain, their plane was diverted after an emergency call – and the pilots chose to land at Northolt, west London. MPs are allowed to drink alcohol on flights returning from Parliamentary delegations or fact-finding trips. But last night there were claims that some of the party had been over-indulging.

MPs have hit back at claims that their drinking on an official trip to Gibraltar was a disgrace. Tory grandee Peter Luff said that the press had taken a cheap holiday for seven days in Gibraltar. He also argued that – if it really were a serious issue – Parliament would have already dealt with it.

Labour MP John Mann said the party was not ‘under-reacting’ to events in Gibraltar. He claimed that they were prevented from leaving the country by the authorities on the Rock.

On his blog he wrote Last night, when we arrived back at Northolt, I asked why no cars were waiting for us. I was told that the Government had instructed all planes not to wait for MPs because of the economic climate. It is only when our plane landed that we realised why there were no cars waiting for us.

The Gibraltar Chronicle has also written about the event, saying it is ‘disgusting’ that politicians can get drunk on taxpayer-funded trips.

The Gibraltar Chronicle has also written about the event, saying it is ‘disgusting’ that politicians can get drunk on taxpayer-funded trips.

But the story was not picked up by any UK newspapers (that I could find). The alacrity with which they report on stories like this shows there’s no need to make things up when the facts fit so well – whether it’s a Labour MP calling for public spending cuts to be delayed after a taxpayer-funded jolly, or Tories working on policies which benefit them personally with George Osborne, there is no shortage of material. I think the following probably sums it up best

the following is from an anonymous Northolt worker:

I work at Northolt and I can tell you that Mr Mann’s actions were not in any way unusual.

It is quite common for passengers to take advantage of Parliament’s ability to allow MPs to drink on flights returning from foreign trips where it is permitted by the host country. The fact that they also land at Northolt is purely down to the fact it saves time and money for the taxpayer.

I know of many cases where MPs have taken booze off the planes – without any security problem whatsoever.

MPs are permitted to return from foreign trips by this method as long as their itinerary meant that they couldn’t get back any other way.

The following is from the Independent, quoting John Mann MP:

Mann accused his critics for attempting to “smear” him and said he had been targeted because he was a Labour politician. He also claimed that press photographers at Northolt were not interested in the other passengers on the flight, who included British citizens.