Royal Yacht Britannia successor scrapped: Boris' flagship idea sunk by Rishi Sunak

7 November 2022, 15:39 | Updated: 7 November 2022, 16:23

Plans have been scrapped.
Plans have been scrapped. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Plans to build a new "national flagship" have been terminated with immediate effect, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has confirmed.

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The £250 million scheme was abandoned as part of a squeeze on government spending, with Whitehall bracing for cuts in the November 17 Autumn Statement.

The plan was championed by Boris Johnson when he was PM but faced criticism from MPs at a time when there were other priorities for defence spending.

The Commons Defence Committee warned in 2021 that there was "no evidence of the advantage to the Royal Navy of acquiring the national flagship" and that the initial expenditure would pile extra pressure on the senior service.

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An artist's impression of a new national flagship
An artist's impression of a new national flagship. Picture: Downing Street

Mr Wallace told MPs he was prioritising the procurement of the multi-role ocean surveillance ship (MROSS) instead of the flagship.

"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.

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".

Mr Wallace told MPs the MROSS would "protect sensitive defence infrastructure and civil infrastructure" and "improve our ability to detect threats to the seabed and cables".

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 Royal Yacht Britannia Royal Yacht Britannia ship moored in Leith Harbour, Edinburgh
The Royal Yacht Britannia Royal Yacht Britannia ship moored in Leith Harbour, Edinburgh. Picture: Alamy

The successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia had been expected to be made in the UK and take to the water in 2024 or 2025.

It was initially planned to be used for trade talks and was going to be named after the late Prince Philip.

Philip was involved in the design of the original Royal Yacht Britannia alongside the Queen and was a keen sailing enthusiast.

When the ship was decommissioned, furniture from the State Dining Room was placed in Frogmore House in the grounds of Windsor Castle. The Duke had a special Britannia room.

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