Boris Johnson's Plan For A New Royal Yacht Has Been Killed Off By Rishi Sunak

An artist's impression of a new national flagship, the successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which Boris Johnson said would promote British trade and industry around the world. (Photo: 10 Downing Street via PA Media)
An artist's impression of a new national flagship, the successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which Boris Johnson said would promote British trade and industry around the world. (Photo: 10 Downing Street via PA Media)

An artist's impression of a new national flagship, the successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which Boris Johnson said would promote British trade and industry around the world.  (Photo: 10 Downing Street via PA Media)

Boris Johnson’s plan for a new Royal Yacht has been sunk by Rishi Sunak.

The former prime minister had said the £250 million vessel, a replacement for the decommissioned Royal Yacht Britannia, would boost post-Brexit trade with other countries.

It had been expected to be constructed in the UK and take to the water in 2024 or 2025, and would have toured the world as a “floating embassy”

But defence secretary Ben Wallace today confirmed that the project had been scrapped as the government seeks to plug a £50 billion financial black hole.

Instead, he told MPs he was prioritising the procurement of a multi-role ocean surveillance ship (MROSS).

“In the face of the Russian illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and (Vladimir) Putin’s reckless disregard of international arrangements designed to keep world order, it is right that we prioritise delivering capabilities which safeguard our national infrastructure,” he said.

Wallace said that meant he had “also directed the termination of the national flagship competition with immediate effect to bring forward the first MROSS ship in its place”.

Shadow defence secretary John Healey welcomed the news that the “previous prime minister’s vanity project” has been scrapped and the spending switched to “purposes that will help defend the country”.

The Commons defence committee warned in 2021 that there was “no evidence of the advantage to the Royal Navy of acquiring the national flagship”.

They said that the initial expenditure of around £250 million, combined with the £20–30 million a year running costs and providing a crew, would pile extra pressure on the senior service.

Last year, former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke dismissed the idea as “silly populist nonsense”.

He said: “It shows there are people in Number 10 who just think there’s free money and who think that waving a Union Jack and sending yachts and aircraft carriers around the world shows what a great power we are.

“We have no money for that kind of thing.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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