What a circus.
A little more than a year after launching a competition to build a new ‘royal yacht’ to replace the long-since-mothballed Britannia, the Tory government has withdrawn the project.
The ship was commissioned by Boris Johnson in June 2021, to host trade fairs and diplomatic events – and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced that the £250 million plan to build it had been terminated today (November 7, 2022).
The announcement came as part of the government’s search for spending cuts, and 10 Downing Street said it was right to “prioritise” spending “at a time when difficult spending decisions need to be made”.
The plan had been criticised as Boris Johnson’s “vanity project” – not least by This Writer – but in fact it has long been a Tory dream to have a new state-of-the-art maritime toy on which to gad about the world pretending to be players.
I wrote about it when the project was announced last year:
Tories have been trying to build themselves a new luxury yacht – at our expense – since at least 2012, when Michael Gove suggested spending £60 million on it to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee:
“This boat would cost £60 million, apparently – a million for every year she’s been on the throne. It would be a pointless present because, at Her Majesty’s age, she’s hardly going to be able to steer it.”
By 2016, the projected cost had nearly doubled:
“Now we learn that Conservative MPs want to give the Queen another yacht – at a cost of £100 million that could be better-used elsewhere, perhaps on benefit payments for a further £16,666 sick people for a year.
“When [Gove] suggested it, back in January 2012, the cost was said to be £60 million. Why has it nearly doubled in the years since?
“At least we have an answer to my question of the time – whether Tories try to spend our money on such unnecessary lavishments habitually.
“Yes. Yes they do.”
Amazingly, that price had remained static when the possibility was floated yet again in 2020:
“The twist this time is a proposal to split funding three ways between businesses, the public and the National Lottery (so the public pays twice).”
The idea of boosting trade has been there since Gove, and I addressed it last year:
“The point about trade deals is interesting at a time when the Tory government is desperately trying to re-establish the UK as a trading nation after severing ties with the European Union.
“But who benefits from such deals?
“Rich businesspeople, perhaps – but would they pay their taxes or send the cash to tax havens?
“If the latter, then why should the public pay for something that will not help us in the slightest?”
Exactly. Thankfully, the public will be saved from having to pay for this monumental White Elephant – this time.
How long until the idea is resurrected yet again?
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