MPs debated options for the funding of a new Royal yacht yesterday – with one suggestion to divert cash from the UK's aid budget.
In a Westminster debate led by Lancashire MP Jake Berry, MPs called for the government to re-establish the use of a royal yacht for trade talks.
Former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth said a new yacht was “a must have” for the UK, and would “deliver a statement of our intent post-Brexit and deliver a return on investment to Britain in the long term”.
Howarth suggested that funding for the yacht could be split between the Ministries of Defence, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department, the Foreign Office and the “rich as croesus” Department for International Development, which allocates UK aid funding.
Berry, an ally of foreign secretary Boris Johnson and the chief proponent behind the campaign for a new yacht, noted that countries including Turkey, India and the Philippines all have state yachts.
“But here in Britain – the fifth largest economy in the world – we feel it is something we can't afford. I feel that is a national disgrace.”
However, international trade minister Mark Garnier said the government could not spend money from the aid budget on a new royal yacht, adding that while there would be no public money for the project, the government would consider privately funded plans.
“If you can come forward with a business proposal, I think we'd all be very keen to see it,” Garnier told Kaufman.