Ministers raise hopes for new Britannia
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