Suggestions that ministers are again in talks about commissioning a new Royal Yacht Britannia has been met with a barrage of derision highlighting just how unseaworthy the concept is in a climate of Brexit uncertainty.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry has been in discussions for a new ‘Brexit-annia’ with Liam Fox, the International Trade secretary, this week which they believe will be a “showcase for everything that is best in Britain”.
HMY Britannia – which is now a visitor attraction in Edinburgh – was decommissioned by Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1997.
The new replacement – estimated to cost £100million to build and £10million a year to run – would be a way for Britain to project “the soft power of our nation around the world”, Berry told the newspaper which has campaigned for a new Britannia to help win deals for Britain post-Brexit.
Speaking to Chopper’s Brexit Podcast, Berry made clear that his views were “personal” rather than those of the Government, “but I hope one day we can see the return of ‘Brexit-annia’ we can almost call her to the waves”.
Berry told the newspaper he had discussion the plans with Fox earlier this week, “and we were saying what a great thing it could be”.
The minister made said the yacht would be privately funded.
Plans to recommission the Royal Yacht Britannia have been around for some time with Prime Minister Theresa May torpedoing a Boris Johnson-backed plan to recommission the yacht in September last year.
The Foreign Secretary had offered tentative support for the idea of refitting the ship which supporters of the idea, at that time, claimed could help raise billions in overseas trade as a ‘floating embassy’ touring the globe to push exports to an EU-free UK.
No.10 killed off the idea with a blunt assessment that it was “not on the agenda”, suggesting no taxpayers’ cash would be spent on it.
“What we are trying to do as a Government is to forge an ambitious plan to exploit the opportunities that leaving the EU represents,” a No.10 spokesman told HuffPost UK at the time.
“The ambition is to be a global leader on free trade. There are a number of ways we can go about doing that, but the recommissioning of the Britannia is not on the agenda for that.”
Earlier, FCO sources told the Sun that they were looking into the plan, and a friend of Johnson said: “Boris is certainly intrigued by the idea Jake has floated. Britannia is a great symbol of global Britain.”