One has to hand it to the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate: first they manage to persuade gullible Tory MPs that it would be a good idea to build a new Royal Yacht - at significant cost in construction and upkeep - and then egg on the assembled idiocy into securing a Westminster Hall debate on the subject, even though there is less than a snowball in hell’s chance of the thing ever being built.
Royal Yacht Britannia - not coming back
That, though, does not concern the press, who have seen the Tory MPs reheat their cod story - so they can generate even more pointless copy from it. Those involved included the Sun’s alleged “Westminster Correspondent”, the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, who has fashioned two articles from this thin gruel, despite there being rather a lot of copying and pasting between the two. And less than total honesty.
“A NEW BRITANNIA TO RULE THE WAVES? Government declares itself ‘very keen’ to see costed plans to bring back a Royal Yacht to replace HMY Britannia” he told, adding “More than 100 Tory MPs are backing a new Britannia and MPs debated the plans in a patriotic session in Parliament this afternoon”. So patriotic that by doing so they ignored a proper debate on the situation in Syria. Still, they’re only brown foreign people, eh?
The detachment from reality was clear: “Former Defence Minister Mark Francois called for the running costs of the state vessel to be paid for out of the ‘rising’ international aid budget”. Yeah, stuff sending food and medical supplies to war zones and crisis-hit parts of the world, we’ve got another boondoggle to splash out on.
There was more: “MP Jack Lopresti said the referendum result mean that it was the ‘perfect time in history’ for a new Britannia as it could be ‘a massive signal to the world that, unshackled from Brussels, Britain is back’”. A massive signal that we’ve taken leave of our senses, more like. And the Telegraph had to get in on the act, as the paper was so desperate for stories it had taken Cole’s original rubbish and made it into a “campaign”.
Here, Christopher Hope said Lopresti wanted a new Royal Yacht “because trade deals generated by it would ‘fund itself in due course’”. Some MPs are so terminally stupid that they really believe trade agreements are sealed by being invited aboard a Royal Yacht - rather than the reality, that they are concluded only after years of tortuous negotiations.
But Hope did at least concede “there was no public money to pay for a new yacht”. And that is the problem for all those Ron Hopefuls out there on the right: no public money, and as a result, no Royal Yacht. Hence the BBC’s more realistic headline “Government has 'no plans' for royal yacht for Brexit trade talks”, and the Independent telling “Plans for a new royal yacht have been scuppered as the Government insisted it is ‘very, very unlikely’ taxpayers' money will be used to investigate any privately-backed proposals”.
There isn’t going to be a new Royal Yacht. But that will not stop the less than fully employed ranks of hacks inventing something. This story was crap the first time it was pitched, and it’s still crap. An upmarket boat will not save the Tories’ Brexit blushes.