Tory minister sparks debate after insisting £200 million Royal Yacht is a ‘good idea’

<p>Kwasi Kwarteng</p>

Kwasi Kwarteng

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A government minister has insisted chucking £200 million on a Royal Yacht to commemorate Prince Philip is a “good idea”, causing many to raise their eyebrows.

Speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng batted away suggestions that the project may seem a bit unnecessary and claimed it would be good for trade.

“I think it's a good idea, actually,” he said.

“It represents Britain, it’s a symbol of Britain, and if we are going on trade missions that’s exactly the way we would drive trade.

“We’ll get much more bang for our buck for something like that than the opposite.”

The Royal Yacht was first discussed in April following the death of Prince Philip. At the time, South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay told The Sunday Telegraph: “The towering figure that was the Duke of Edinburgh deserve a permanent tribute to his support for the country, the Commonwealth and the Queen.”

Other Tory sources mumbled their approval for the plan and other people expressed their outrage at the expense, with a YouGov survey finding that people disapproved of the plan by 47 per cent to 29 per cent:

Meanwhile, The Times recently reported that the government can’t decide what department should pay for it, and the actual Royal family have distanced themselves from the proposals.

Yet this clearly hasn’t quelled the government’s desire to stick a boat in the Thames for some reason, and Kwarteng appeared unable to understand why Burley was questioning it.

Reacting to Kwarteng, people had other ideas. Many thought his comments were distasteful given he and other members of the cabinet voted against continuing free school meals during the school holidays last year due to the expense:

Others saw the assertion that we need a boat to manage trade deals as a bit daft:

Meanwhile, plans for the Royal Yacht to, in the words of Boris Johnson, “represent and promote the best of British” were further dampened yesterday when a leading naval architect said it looked like a “1950s fishing trawler”.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Stephen Payne said it was a “very poor” flagship for the UK and would be more suitable for the Isle of Sark, population 500.

“I just think we could do something more ambitious,” he added. “The superstructure front, akin to a 1950s Hull trawler, is great for a fair-weather ship but not such a good idea for a global voyager crossing the Atlantic, Pacific, or even rounding the tip of Africa.

“They say they’ll use a Royal Navy crew. Isn’t there a chronic manpower shortage within the service? Will the Navy look at this new vessel not with adoring eyes but with despair as it struggles to keep frontline ships at sea?

“As for financing this ship, there’s £200 million to find and I’d be surprised if the running costs weren’t £5 million a year.”

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