New flagship to replace royal yacht will 'promote the best of British'

30 May 2021, 08:43 | Updated: 30 May 2021, 19:23

An artist's impression of the flagship
An artist's impression of the flagship. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

A successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia will be used to promote British trade and industry around the world, Boris Johnson has announced.

The new national flagship will host trade fairs, ministerial summits and diplomatic talks as part of the UK's bid to boost ties and exports having left the European Union.

Britannia was decommissioned in 1997. The new flagship will be a ship instead of a luxury yacht, and its name has not been announced.

Tory MPs and campaigners have suggested the Duke of Edinburgh, who played a role in designing Britannia.

It will be built in the UK and reportedly cost up to £200 million, with Labour demanding the Government explain how investing in it during a pandemic will boost the British economy.

Mr Johnson, who has had a difficult week after being savaged as "unfit" for his job by ex-aide Dominic Cummings, said: "This new national flagship will be the first vessel of its kind in the world, reflecting the UK's burgeoning status as a great, independent maritime trading nation.

"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."

It follows Mr Cummings' claim that the Government was responsible for tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths during the Covid pandemic.

Mr Johnson has also faced claims that his past remarks about women wearing burkas helped form an impression the Conservative Party is "insensitive to Muslim communities".

The ministerial watchdog also said he was "unwise" to allow his Downing Street flat to be refurbished without "more rigorous regard for how this would be funded".

The new flagship, which will be crewed by the Royal Navy will be built next year and enter service within four years. It is expected to serve for about 30 years.

Its design and construction tendering process will begin soon, and an artist's impression has been revealed.

Shadow Treasury chief secretary Bridget Phillipson said: "Right now our country faces huge challenges, and there's no sign the government has a plan for the recovery.

"We want to see public money used for targeted investment in a green economic recovery, resources for our NHS, and supporting families to succeed.

"If this ship is going to be part of a genuine plan for Britain's future, the government must set out clearly how it will boost trade, jobs and growth in every corner of our country.

"We'd want to see it built in Britain, supporting jobs and skills in shipyards here, and with a real focus on value for money at every stage."

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