Nikolay Kalinin joins those condemning Boris Johnson’s decision to waste £200 million on a boat Britain didn’t ask for (or need)
Remember when Eurosceptics pledged Brexit would enable the government to give £350 million per week ($496 million, €406 million or درهم1.8 billion per week) to the NHS? Well, now we finally know where that money is actually going as the government has officially decided to waste some of it commissioning a vanity ship they claim will showcase the “best of British.”
The £200 million ($284 million, €232 million or درهم1 billion) gin palace – which was to be named after the late Duke of Edinburgh though even the royal family have supposedly raised objections to such as they don’t think an association with it will do them any favours – is set to be the successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was retired in 1997. Boris Johnson has stated that the vessel will “represent and promote the best of British – a clear and powerful symbol of our commitment to be an active player on the world stage.”
Yet, one cannot ignore that this project seems so pointless and unnecessarily expensive, a fact that has been called out by figures in Parliament. When asked about the diplomatic benefits of “recommissioning HM Yacht Britannia” by Conservative MP for Romford, Andrew Rosindell, President for COP26, Alok Sharma, admitted: “The royal yacht was used on just 37 occasions for… signing trade deals during 1989 – 1997. There’s no evidence that the yacht made a difference to the trade deals secured in these years and this level of use would not represent a good return on investment.”
The Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson, also seemed to agree, stating: “We want to see public money used for targeted investment in a green economic recovery, resources for our NHS, and supporting families to succeed.”
She added that if the government does go ahead with the plan to build the yacht: “We’d want to see it built in Britain, supporting jobs and skills in shipyards here, and with a real focus on value for money at every stage.”
What we are seeing here once again is the government misappropriating taxpayers’ money in order to reinforce the fake vision of muscular unionism. The government is trying to reinforce a vision of a united Britain and ‘Britishness’ not through progressive deeds that reflect ‘British values,’ but through objects such as yachts named after recognisable things.
It’s not only the costly yacht however that reflects the idea that ‘muscular unionism’ is so empty, as some time ago an autonomous company launched trials of a self-driving bus in Cambridge, which was draped in the Union Jack.
Comedian Jonathan Pie reacted to the news by calling the bus “the perfect visual metaphor for a country in the grips of such inept and directionless leadership,” while Lord Andrew Adonis mockingly wrote that it “looks like a Brexit bus.”
While I like flags as much as the next man, the fact that ‘BoJo’ seems hellbent on putting them up everywhere demonstrates that his government has nothing much to offer. If Johnson really wants to unite the people of his country, he should work on fixing the rift between his government and Scotland and solve the problems Northern Ireland is facing as a result of Brexit.