Richard Palmer, the Daily Express’ royal correspondent, spoke after Boris Johnson unveiled plans for the country’s first national flagship since the Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997. It will cost up to £200m and will host ministerial summits and diplomatic talks as part of Mr Johnson’s plan to build links with other countries following Brexit.
Unveiling his bold plan, the Prime Minister said: “’Every aspect of the ship, from its build to the businesses it showcases on board, will represent and promote the best of British.
“A clear and powerful symbol of our commitment to be an active player on the world stage.”
Rather than inspire national unity, the idea has been slammed by many – especially its huge price tag which comes as many prepare to tighten their belts amid the Covid pandemic.
Labour said it wanted to see “public money used for targeted investment in a green economic recovery, resources for our NHS, and supporting families to succeed”.
“HMS Victory, in Portsmouth Dockyard, is the First Sea Lord’s and, thus the ceremonial, flagship.
“Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence had no idea yesterday if this new ship would affect their status.
“One thing is clear: it’s not really a new Royal Yacht and, while members of the Royal Family may occasionally step on board for functions and perhaps even stay on it briefly during overseas visits, they won’t sail…