Min­is­ters raise hopes for new Bri­tan­nia

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Christo­pher Hope CHIEF PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

MIN­IS­TERS have held talks about com­mis­sion­ing a new Royal Yacht Bri­tan­nia, The Daily Tele­graph can dis­close.

Jake Berry, the North­ern Pow­er­house min­is­ter, said he dis­cussed plans this week with Liam Fox, the In­ter­na­tional Trade Sec­re­tary, for a “Brex­i­tan­nia” that will be a “show­case for ev­ery­thing that is best in Bri­tain”.

HMY Bri­tan­nia, now a vis­i­tor at­trac­tion in Ed­in­burgh, was de­com­mis­sioned in 1997 by Tony Blair when he was prime min­is­ter.

De­signs for a re­place­ment Bri­tan­nia were drawn up in se­cret by naval staff and ap­proved by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Royal fam­ily but the Labour gov­ern­ment re­fused to pay for it.

The re­place­ment, which could cost £100mil­lion to build and £10mil­lion a year to run, would be a way for Bri­tain to project “the soft power of our na­tion around the world”, Mr Berry said. The Tele­graph has been cam­paign­ing for a new Bri­tan­nia to help win deals after Bri­tain leaves the Euro­pean Union. Scores of Tory MPS, in­clud­ing Mr Berry, backed the cam­paign.

Speak­ing to Chopper’s Brexit Pod­cast, Mr Berry, who en­tered the gov­ern­ment in June, said: “They are my per­sonal views rather than gov­ern­ment views, but I hope one day we can see the re­turn of ‘Brexit-an­nia’.

“It would be a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity to show the best of Bri­tish man­u­fac­tur­ing on a global scale.”

He added: “In my meet­ing with Liam Fox yes­ter­day, we dis­cussed this and we were say­ing what a great thing it could be.”

The royal yacht would be pri­vately funded and would not be a “play­thing for mi­nor roy­als” but a cat­a­lyst for trade deals for “global Bri­tain”.

Mr Berry said: “It is pro­posed that it is a ship for Her Majesty the Queen, a float­ing palace that can be moved around the world. But when it is not in use by our monarch, it is to be used as a show­case for ev­ery­thing that is best in Bri­tain.” The new yacht would ben­e­fit our global am­bi­tions, he added. “Any­thing we can do to sup­port the con­cept of global Bri­tain, do free trade deals, sup­port busi­nesses across the north of Eng­land and else­where, I think we should give con­sid­er­a­tion to.”

Mr Berry also said that busi­ness lead­ers in the north of Eng­land were sick of “Lon­don-cen­tric whing­ing” about Brexit.

He said: “When­ever I go around the north of Eng­land, there are two things peo­ple say to me. They say ‘that Theresa May, she is a grand lass’ – and guess what, I agree with them – and they also say ‘stop this Lon­don-cen­tric, whing­ing back-bit­ing talk­ing the coun­try down. Get be­hind our Gov­ern­ment, get be­hind our Prime Min­is­ter and let’s make Brexit a suc­cess’.”

Mr Berry, a lead­ing Re­main sup­porter at last year’s ref­er­en­dum, said: “I was a Re­main sup­porter – [now] I would cer­tainly vote to leave… I was al­ways a re­luc­tant Re­mainer but I put great store by the doom­laden pre­dic­tions by the for­mer Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer, Ge­orge Os­borne.

“As very lit­tle, if any, of that has come to pass I re­cant my vote to re­main.

Chopper’s Brexit Pod­cast is avail­able on the Tele­graph’s web­site from 6am to­day and to down­load from itunes

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