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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

MPs call for new lottery to fund royal yacht and 'showcase Brexit Britain'

The proposal by 50 Conservative MPs follows plans to turn Britain’s passports blue after Brexit

The Royal Yacht Britannia makes it last appearance at Cowes Regatta before being decommissioned on August 05, 1996, in Cowes, Isle of Wight. Anwar Hussein / Getty Images
The Royal Yacht Britannia makes it last appearance at Cowes Regatta before being decommissioned on August 05, 1996, in Cowes, Isle of Wight. Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

Fifty Conservative MPs are pushing ministers in Theresa May’s cabinet to create a new lottery to raise funds for a £120 million royal yacht to promote post-Brexit Britain.

It follows plans to replace the country’s passports, which are currently burgundy and bear EU markings, with a blue British one after Brexit.

A new yacht would “showcase post-Brexit Britain and bring trade to our shores”, the MPs said.

In a letter sent to the Government, the MPs said that a new national lottery game would allow ordinary Britons to feel “the pride of having a stake” in the boat, which would also “project our humanitarian role across the globe” after Brexit.

But the proposal met with an immediate backlash on Twitter, as the MPs faced accusations of being “out of touch” with the public.

Angry social media users pointed to the number of homeless people on the streets and the cash-strapped National Health Service, as they questioned the Conservatives’ priorities in spending £120 million on a new yacht.

Prominent Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, and Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, were among the recipients of the letter. Defence secretary Gavin Williamson and culture minister Tracey Crouch also received the letter.

Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997 by the then-Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on account of its high costs.

Until then, it had been regularly used by the Queen and members of the Royal family on their overseas trips. Over the course of 40 years, it took part in almost 1000 official tours and travelled over a million miles at sea.

The MPs called on ministers to “right the wrong” of Labour’s decision on the vessel, saying: “As we leave the European Union, there has never been a better time to consider how Britain projects herself on the world stage.

“We believe that now is the time to commission a new Royal Yacht Britannia as a new symbol of global Britain, designed and built domestically to showcase the best of UK shipbuilding and industry, and as a platform for promoting trade.”

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It added: “Our country needs and deserves a floating Royal Palace that can be used to host meetings and exhibitions to showcase the best of British business and project our humanitarian role across the globe.”

The letter insisted that the replacement vessel would not add a burden to departmental budgets, thanks to the proposal to establish a new national lottery to help pay for it. “It would be the people of the UK through the unique funding method who would have the pride of having a stake in her,” it said.

The note was signed by four former ministers, including Andrew Murrison, a former defence minister, and Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a Parliamentary private secretary in the defence department. It was written by Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay, who was previously a member of the UK Independence Party.

The campaign was supported by Anthony Morrow, the last captain of HMY Britannia, who said: “A new initiative for a Royal Yacht to replace Britannia is to be warmly welcomed and it would be wonderful to see this come about.”