MP who criticised Remembrance Day ‘stunts’ claimed expenses for poppies

Exclusive: Tory was among MPs – including a minister – who claimed nearly £500 for wreaths last year

MPs claimed hundreds of pounds on expenses for Remembrance Day poppies and wreaths last year, openDemocracy has found.

They include Conservative MP Chris Loder, who has previously criticised Extinction Rebellion for “hijack[ing]” Remembrance Sunday “for a political stunt”.

Records show he claimed back £110 spent on the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal last year.

Conservative transport minister Huw Merriman also claimed expenses for £27.50 spent on the Poppy Appeal, after saying it was a “privilege” to lay a wreath.

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And Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney – who is the party’s Treasury spokesperson – charged taxpayers for two poppy wreaths priced at £24 each.

She told openDemocracy: “I attended two Remembrance ceremonies in person – one in New Malden, in Kingston Borough and one in Richmond Town Centre – and laid wreaths on behalf of my constituents at both.”

Although rules allow MPs to claim expenses for poppies and wreaths, the practice has been widely condemned – with one Tory MP saying it is “totally wrong”. In 2020, Labour Party whips warned their MPs it would be “extremely unwise to do so”.

Records show, however, that Labour shadow minister Janet Daby put a £55 wreath on expenses last year.

Last night, she told openDemocracy: “In my capacity as an MP, I lay a wreath purchased from the Royal British Legion on behalf of my constituents. This has typically counted as a work-related cost hence why IPSA has approved any associated claims.

“This year and before being approached for comment, further guidance was issued and I made the decision to no longer claim for the purchase of wreaths. When I donate to charity, this is of course paid for entirely by me.”

The SNP’s Allan Dorans also put a £37.40 bill on expenses, after ordering from Scotland’s Lady Haig Poppy Factory.

But Conservative backbencher Andy Carter claimed the most, charging taxpayers £165 for a Poppy Appeal bill.

In total, at least seven MPs claimed £485 for poppies or wreaths around the time of last year’s Remembrance Day.

Another, Ian Levy, claimed £22.98 in March last year for a wreath commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War. His spokesperson told openDemocracy: “A total of ten wreaths for Remembrance Day 2023 are required, to be laid at various places within Blyth Valley, and these have been privately purchased by Mr Levy.”

A spokesperson for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which is responsible for MPs’ expenses, said: “Claiming for a Remembrance wreath for parliamentary duties is something that can be done via MPs’ business costs, should they choose to.”

Over the years, many MPs have made use of this, by charging taxpayers for poppies, wreaths and other Remembrance Day costs. In 2009, Boris Johnson was forced to apologise after putting a £16.50 wreath on his expenses, claiming it had been “mistakenly added”.

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