EXCLUSIVE: Third of May's Cabinet in Davos slammed for 'tax-payer funded freebie to sip champagne with the global elite'

WEF

World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, eastern Switzerland. Image: Getty

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A third of Theresa May's Cabinet are in Davos this week in an unprecedented delegation slammed as a "tax-payer funded freebie to sip champagne with the global elite."

Seven top ministers - Chancellor Philip Hammond, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, International Development Secretary Penny Mourdant, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright and Wales Secretary Alun Cairns - are attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

Hotel bills and restaurant prices skyrocket during the summit which is notorious for its lavish champagne-fuelled receptions held in one of the world's most exclusive resorts.

It is understood that every minister attending is travelling with at least one member of staff.

Prince William and naturalist David Attenborough speak at the 2019 World Economic Forum. Image: Getty 

The Prime Minister declined an invitation to attend to remain in the UK to focus on the Brexit situation.

Jon Trickett Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “It's outrageous that while the county is crying out for a solution to the disastrous Tory Brexit deadlock, seven Cabinet ministers are swanning off on a tax-payer funded freebie to sip champagne with the global elite.

“But then again, leaving other people to clean up their mess is what the Tory Party does best.”

 

'Not the time to go on a jolly'

Chancellor Phillip Hammond. Image: Getty

James Roberts, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “In the midst of Brexit, it makes a lot of sense for the PM to send her chancellor and trade minister out to bat for Britain.

“But taxpayers will be baffled why a whole coach load of ministers will be turning up at Davos. This is not the time for half of cabinet to go on a jolly. 

“The government urgently need to explain why so many ministers are going and come clean about the costs to the taxpayer.”

Seven is understood to set a record for the number of UK government attendees at the exclusive gathering. 

Theresa May and President Donald Trump at the 2018 World Economic Forum. Image: Getty

Last year the PM and Chancellor attended the summit. 2017 was Theresa May's first Davos as Prime Minister - she was accompanied by Philip Hammond and Liam Fox.

In 2016 Prime Minister David Cameron attended along with George Osborne, Sajid Javid and Justine Greening.

None of the departments represented provided details on costs, travel or accommodation when approached for comment.

 

'We don't comment on minister's diaries'

A Treasury spokesman said: "The Chancellor will be in Davos on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday where he will promote the UK’s leading role in the Global Economy. In addition to giving the key note speech at the CBI conference, the Chancellor has meetings with prominent figures in industry, academia, and with French, German and Swiss Finance Ministers."

A BEIS spokesman said: "We don't comment on minister's diaries."

A Downing Street spokesman said last week the PM would be "focused on matters" in the UK rather than make the trip.

A spokesman for the Wales Office said: "Secretary of State Cairns is not attending the World Economic Forum - he will be in Switzerland later this week to attend the Welsh Alpine Championships."