Tories call for Royal Yacht Britannia to be recommissioned

MEMBERS of parliament and former ministers have said the Royal Yacht Britannia should be used to secure trade deals post-Brexit.

The Royal Yacht Britannia is anchored outside Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The Royal Yacht Britannia is anchored outside Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Georgeson

A recent campaign by the Telegraph has led many politicians to come out in favour of returning the vessel to its former glory.

They include three former trade ministers as well as 20 backbenchers.

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The yacht has been out of service since 1997 though many think that returning its operational status would strengthen links with the Commonwealth.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is said to see HMY Britannia as “a great symbol of global Britain” and is believed to be putting together a proposal that would see HMY Britannia returned to the sea,

Richard Needham, who was minister of trade from 1992 and 1995 and led four overseas trade missions on the yacht, believes that the vessel could be key to trade deals in a post-Brexit world.

“Britannia was an incredible benefit in terms of trade promotion,” said Mr Needham.

“It was wonderful, absolutely wonderful. I remember having her in Cape Town, the floodlighting of Table Top mountain behind her, the band of the Royal Marines.”

The yacht is estimated to have secured £3 billion in trade deals at a time when world and business leaders looked to attend its prestigious receptions.

Lord Heseltine, formerly the President of the Board of Trade, who at the time fought against the decision to end Britannia’s trade missions, said: “We made a great mistake in not replacing Britannia in the 1990s. That remains my view.

“She was a symbol of many things about this country we have now not got. It was the wrong decision but I full understood the pressures on the Government of which I was a member. In the internal debate I wanted to replace it.”

Tory MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry, forwarded the motion which will be debated in Parliament next month.

As it stands, two options will be explored: recommission the original yacht, or else order a replica. Mr Berry will also look at ways of raising funds that would not require using public money.

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