New national flagship replacing the Royal Yacht Britannia 'to be funded through the Ministry of Defence', says No 10

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A new national yacht, which is reportedly set to cost £200m, will be paid for out of the Ministry of Defence's budget, Downing Street has confirmed.

The national flagship, the successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, will sail the globe hosting trade talks.

The prime minister's official spokesperson said Boris Johnson hopes it will be built in the UK, but that international rules on procurement will be followed.

Mr Johnson announced the commissioning of the new flagship earlier this year, saying it would be used to promote British interests around the world as the UK seeks to build trade links post-Brexit.

The vessel will be part of and crewed by the Royal Navy, the PM 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," he added.

Labour has previously called on the government to set out how the yacht will boost trade and jobs in the UK and to "focus on value for money" with regards to the project.

Conservative Jake Berry, who is chairman of the Northern Research Group of MPs, has campaigned for the vessel to be built by Cammell Laird on Merseyside.

And at a lobby briefing on Monday, the PM's official spokesperson confirmed the new flagship will be "funded through the Ministry of Defence".

"This new national flagship will boost British trade and drive investment into the economy," he said.

"The procurement process, which is being done through the MoD, will reflect its wide-ranging use and so it will be funded through the MoD, as set out previously."

The PM's official spokesperson declined to comment on where the MoD would find the reported £200m required for the project out of its budget, but did confirm the new vessel will not be a warship.

"We will set out the exact detail in due course but this is a trade ship, it is not a military vessel," he said.

The Royal Yacht Britannia was launched by The Queen in 1953 and was retired in 1997 after completing 44 years of service.

The new national flagship is expected to be in service for around 30 years.

The yacht's name is yet to be announced, but reports have suggested it will pay homage to the Duke of Edinburgh who was Lord High Admiral from 2011 until his death earlier this year, and served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

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