05:05 GMT26 November 2020
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    The Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997 following the election of Tony Blair and New Labour. It had been used as a royal vessel for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II since 1954 for foreign visits and to raise British prestige abroad.

    Britain is in need of a brand new Royal Yacht Britannia to provide a "morale boost" to the country during the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, a former trade minister and head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said on Thursday.

    Lord Jones of Birmingham, who ran the CBI between 2000 to 2006, later serving in Gordon Brown's government as a trade minister, suggested that a £100 million replacement for the royal vessel could be paid for by a "three-way split" between businesses, taxpayers, and the National Lottery.

    ​HMY Britannia is the former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II, in service from 1954 before being decommissioned in 1997. The boat now serves as a visitor attraction in Edinburgh.

    Lord Jones told Chopper's Politics Podcast that a new royal yacht would be "an investment in the future" and that work on construction should start next year.

    "And why now? Because the nation is going to come through this in better shape. If we actually believe in ourselves. That's what we need to believe in ourselves".
    "We have a damn good chance in this country and a royal yacht at this moment would just be one of those good quality delivery messages", he added.

    Lord Jones said he had spoken to numerous "export-focused businesses" prior to the coronavirus pandemic about constructing a replacement yacht..

    The former Minister of State for Trade lauded his work in promoting "brand Britain".

    "I can tell you the Royal Britannia moored in a harbour, asking big decision-makers on board [offers] the atmosphere of something that no other country has got — the British Royal Family", he said.
    "I don't care what the politically correct 'Liberal-ati' from Metropolitan Islington say, believe me it sells around the world like very few other things".
    "Let's get it bought in for the whole country, it is not an elitist thing and it is not an old age thing - this is something that 13-year-old, 14-year-old teenagers could relate to as well."

    Lord Jones' suggestion has not gone without response, with Twitter users giving a mix of reactions ranging from bewilderment to outright anger.

    ​Others joked that the new vessel would be constructed in China.

    ​Lord Jones plan is to ask export firms to contribute £5,000 each, with large companies offering further funds for construction which would be done using apprentices. 

    The completed vessel would aid UK companies to promote their businesses in "other parts of the public realm" such as British universities. He hoped that the Duke of Cambridge would support the agenda.

    Commodore Tony Morrow, the last captain of HMY Britannia, said on Thursday day that he would welcome the idea but would require the "fullest possible understanding" of how the yacht is to be manned and operated.

    MPs including Tory frontbenchers Michael Gove and Liam Fox supported the idea.

    It would not be the first time a prominent minister has demanded to the resurrection of the royal yacht to encourage national sentiment. In 2019, Conservative MP and Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry called for a new yacht to boost international trade and unite the country after Brexit.

    Members Royal Family and various dignitaries aside from Queen Elizabeth embarked on 696 foreign visits and 272 domestic trips in Britannia. The ship hosted US presidents Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton.

    Tags:
    COVID-19, coronavirus, Queen Elizabeth II, royals
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