Senior Conservative Ministers have reportedly endorsed the prospect of a new royal yacht, just as the European Union has warned the UK that Brexit talks are deadlocked.
Pro-Brexit politicians believe commissioning a £100m boat, ostensibly a “floating palace” for the Queen but also to be used to showcase the “best in Britain”, at the same time as the Royal Navy is facing severe cuts.
The privately funded “Brexit-annia” would be employed in a bid to secure the numerous trade deals the UK must win after leaving the EU.
It would display “the soft power of our nation around the world,” Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry told The Daily Telegraph.
The minister said he and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox thought the boat would be a “great thing”.
While the money for its construction will come from private donors, there are anticipated to be around £10m in annual running costs.
The previous royal yacht, HMY Britannia, was decommissioned under the Labour government in 1997.
It required hundreds of Royal Navy personnel to crew and a platoon of Royal Marines for security when the Queen was on board.
Government financial difficulties mean the prospect of cutting 1,000 marines and two amphibious assault ships has also been raised in recent days.
But Mr Berry said: “It would be a fantastic opportunity to show the best of British manufacturing on a global scale.
“Anything we can do to support the conception of global Britain, do free trade deals, support businesses across the north of England and elsewhere, I do think we should give consideration to.”
Senior ministers have been touting the prospect of a new royal yacht since last year’s vote to leave the EU.
In March, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the newspaper: “It is my view that it would indeed add greatly to the soft power of this country, a soft power which is already very considerable.
“The new Britannia should not be a call on the taxpayer, if it can be done privately I am sure it would attract overwhelming support.”
Critics have called it a “colossal waste of money”.