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South West Norfolk MP lunch bill under scrutiny

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South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss is in the headlines for an allegedly hosting an expensive lunch at the taxpayer's expense.

National newspapers have reported that Ms Truss, now the Foreign Secretary but at the time last June the Minister for International Trade, hosted the lunch at an expensive private club owned by a Tory donor after overruling civil service advice to look for a cheaper venue.

The leak to the Press said that she demanded public funds should pay for a £3,000 event with Joe Biden’s trade representative and “refused to consider anywhere else” despite Whitehall reservations about the cost.

Liz Truss MP has agreed in principle the free trade deal with Japan (54044487)
Liz Truss MP has agreed in principle the free trade deal with Japan (54044487)

The meal was held at a restaurant owned by Robin Birley, a Conservative Party donor and the half-brother of Zac Goldsmith, the environment minister.

The Sunday Times reported that the venue reduced the bill to £1,400 but only on the proviso that it was paid straight away.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “It is shameful to see Liz Truss pushing against official advice to book a luxury lunch that brings in thousands of pounds of business to a Tory donor.

“Without a US trade deal in sight, the sheer incompetence of wasting taxpayer money is truly jarring. Whilst working people see their household budgets squeezed, Conservative ministers always manage to find ways to line their mates’ pockets.”

Emily Thornberry, the shadow attorney general, also tweeted that Truss had "expensive tastes".

A Department for International Trade spokesperson said: “This was a diplomatic working dinner attended by the previous international trade secretary, senior UK officials, and US counterparts from our largest single trading partner.”

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