South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay is urging the Government to launch a new lottery to help pay for a £120million royal yacht.
The MP has been backed by at least 50 Members of Parliament who have co-signed a letter to ministers urging the Government to support the project.
The MPs argue that, as the UK leaves the European Union, now is the time for a new Royal Yacht Britannia as a new symbol of Global Britain, designed and built domestically to showcase the best of UK shipbuilding and industry and as a platform for promoting trade.
The MPs say the new lottery and other “complementary sources of funding” could shoulder the cost.
The previous royal yacht – HMY Britannia – was decommissioned by Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1997 after more than 40 years in service. A secret naval design for a replacement for Britannia was drawn up by naval staff and approved by representatives of the Royal Family but the Government said the costs were too high. The vessel is now a visitor attraction in Edinburgh.
HMY Britannia conducted 968 official visits and clocked up more than a million miles at sea. On her last deployment to the Far East, commercial trade deals of some £2.75bn were signed on board to the benefit of the UK.
The South Thanet MP envisages that both Government Ministers and the Royal Family alike could host diplomatic and commercial events on the vessel.
Mr Mackinlay said: “As we leave the European Union, there has never been a better time to consider how Britain projects herself on the world stage. The view of many MPs and people around the country is that the Government should commission a new Royal Yacht Britannia designed and built domestically to showcasing post-Brexit Britain and bringing trade to our shores.
“To be achievable, we need to generate the money to build a new Royal Yacht – an estimated £120million. One way of doing this might be to establish a new national lottery to help pay for the new vessel and that is what I am urging the Government to introduce. And as there will be no call upon departmental budgets, we will be investigating other complementary sources of funding from business leaders who are supportive of the project.
“The new Royal Yacht must belong to the state so it has the benefit of diplomatic immunity when it visits international harbours around the globe. It has to fly the white ensign, because it is crucial that it is crewed by our Royal Navy. And it has to have a strong connection with our royal family, as that is the unique quality that will make its service to our nation succeed.
“Britain remains the third largest maritime power in the world and we have a unique history and connection with the sea. Our country needs and deserves a floating Royal Palace that can be used to host meetings and exhibitions to showcase the best of British business and project our humanitarian role across the globe.”
Thanet Labour county councillor Karen Constantine has slammed the proposal as “ridiculous.”
She said: “This is looking backwards to the so-called halcyon empire days. The royal family are not as popular with the general public as they used to be, the idea the royals can generate an income for the UK is highly questionable.
“What is the return on investment? As austerity bites deeper and people struggle I fear this will create a backlash as people see the wealthy getting even more wealthy.
“It’s time Thanet had MPs that stood up for those constituents who are among the poorest in the country and isn’t it time we looked at why this part of Kent has been so left behind?”