A new (privately-funded) Royal Yacht could showcase Global Britain

A new (privately-funded) Royal Yacht could showcase Global Britain

The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. For me, this comes not a moment too soon. But as we do, we need to ask ourselves a number of important questions about the future of our country. What sort of Britain do we want to live in? How should Britain project herself on the world stage? And how should we maximise the many opportunities provided by Brexit? The most lucrative Brexit dividend is the opportunity for the UK to forge its own trade deals with old friends and new.

I believe that now is the time to commission a new Royal Yacht Britannia as a new symbol of Global Britain, designed and built domestically to showcase the best of UK shipbuilding and industry and as a platform for promoting trade.

As the second Royal Yacht to bear the name Britannia, the previous HMY Britannia was the 83rd such royal vessel and an iconic symbol of Great Britain. She was, for more than 40 years, an instantly recognisable feature on the seas as a representation of the United Kingdom, our Royal Family and our Diplomatic Service, and as a platform to showcase the best of the United Kingdom. During her decades of service HMY Britannia conducted 968 official visits and clocked up more than a million miles at sea. On her last deployment to the Far East, commercial trade deals of some £2.75 billion were signed on board to the benefit of the UK. And still today she is the most popular tourist attraction in Scotland.

The decommissioning of the previous Royal Yacht in 1997 by the last Labour Government was a spiteful mistake.

We can now right that wrong by commissioning a new Royal Yacht that will project Britain’s unique soft power and influence around the globe. She should be at the disposal of both Government Ministers and the Royal Family alike to host diplomatic and commercial events on the new vessel, showcasing post-Brexit Britain and bringing trade to our shores.

To be achievable, we need to generate the money to build her – an estimated £120 million. Putting this into context, this represents just an hour and a half of government expenditure, or under one thousandth of the annual NHS budget, but I appreciate the sensitivity of taxpayer funding. So one way of doing this would be to establish a new national lottery to help pay for the new vessel and that is what I am urging the Government to introduce.

There would be no call upon departmental budgets and it would be the people of the UK – through the unique funding method – who would have the pride of having a stake in her. The case for a new Royal Yacht is overwhelming, provided that the money to fund it comes from the private and not the public sector. That is why we need to investigate other complementary sources of funding from business leaders who are supportive of the project.

Several leading naval architects are willing to volunteer their services for free; similarly major engine manufacturers would like to put engines in the new Royal Yacht for free. Like those 50 MPs who co-signed my letter to ministers arguing for a Royal Yacht, they want to support a new vessel that will serve our United Kingdom for decades to come.

Britain remains the third largest maritime power in the world and we have a unique history and connection with the sea. Our country needs and deserves a floating Royal Palace that can be used to host meetings and exhibitions to showcase the best of British business and project our humanitarian role across the globe.

Photocredit: AnnetteWho