I find myself in rare agreement with the Conservative MPs supporting the campaign to create an updated and modern replacement for the Royal Yacht Britannia.
Having played a significant part in securing billions of pounds of trade in the past, it could well prove a vital tool for doing the same post-Brexit, raising our prestige and profile as we reclaim our place as an independent global player.
Where I part ways with some of the MPs supporting Britannia’s return is when it comes to how it should be funded. While I have some sympathy with diverting part of our extravagant foreign aid budget towards domestic expenditure, I believe there are better places where that money could be spent. The suggestion various government departments divide the £100 million cost of a new yacht between them is also impossible to justify given cuts to services almost everywhere.
Funding the yacht through private donations seems to be the way to go, although safeguards need to be in place to prevent corporate donors benefiting inappropriately. Perhaps a mixture of funding sources would be best – private donations as well as running costs or a ‘usage fee’ paid by Government departments who avail themselves of the yacht?
A public subscription might also be a good idea – I am sure many people would be more than happy to donate to a ‘present’ for Her Majesty in thanks for her decades of service. Perhaps HRH the Duke of Edinburgh could be part of the design committee to reward his own work and in acknowledgement of his previous involvement in royal yacht design.
Overall, the arguments in favour of a new royal yacht are compelling, not least being the prestige of having a ‘state vessel’ – after all, countries in receipt of British foreign aid see having a state yacht an essential tool and if they can indulge in this while taking British tax-payers’ money, the British people and state should reap the same benefits themselves.
UKIP MEP for the East Midlands