Successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia could cost up to £250million as the new national flagship’s price tag ‘balloons by £100million’
- Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said national flagship will cost up to £250million
- Reports last week claimed the price tag for vessel had been set at £150million
- Labour blasted cost of yacht and vowed to ‘scrap the Government’s pet project’
The Government’s successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia could cost as much as £250million, the Defence Secretary said today.
Ben Wallace said his aim is to commission the new national flagship ‘for between £200 and £250million on a firm price’.
The figure put forward by Mr Wallace is significantly higher than the £150million price tag which was floated last week.
Labour claimed Boris Johnson had ‘lost control of his vanity yacht’ and vowed to scrap the Government’s latest ‘pet project’.
The Government’s successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia could cost as much as £250million, the Defence Secretary said today. Pictured is an artist’s impression issued by 10 Downing Street of what the craft could look like
Reports had suggested the new vessel would be subject to a total budget of £150million.
But in a national flagship engagement day speech in Greenwich today, Mr Wallace put the figure at up to £250million.
He said: ‘There has been a lot of reporting around this ship. Not all of it accurate. So let me set out our basic aims.
‘Subject to working through bids, competition and technology, I aim to commission the ship for between £200 and £250million on a firm price.
‘The competition will run until the end of October. I hope to announce the winners in December.
‘To begin construction in a British shipyard as early as next year and have a ship in the water by 2024 or 2025.
‘That’s an ambitious timescale but this is an ambitious project, the chance to break the mould and break some records to get things done in the national interest.’
The new ship will be paid for out of the Ministry of Defence budget despite the fact it is due to be used for trade rather than military purposes.
The Defence Secretary said the Government wants the ship to act as a ‘floating embassy’.
Mr Johnson said this morning during an interview on LBC Radio that he believes the ship will enable the UK to ‘show itself off to the world’.
The Prime Minister said: ‘It is a project that will not only help to drive, revive the ship building industry in this country, drive immediate jobs and growth for young people, immediate job opportunities for young people in a sector in which this country used to lead the world.
‘But when you consider the opportunity for the UK, as we compete now for inward investment in the UK, we need a forum, a place where the best of British business and industry can come together to showcase what we have to offer, and, you know what I mean by, by MIPIM, the world trade fairs, the expos.
‘We need somewhere where the UK can show itself off to the world and attract investment and that will drive jobs and growth in the UK, not just in shipbuilding but across every sector of the UK.’
Ben Wallace said his aim is to commission the new national flagship ‘for between £200 and £250million on a firm price’
Mr Wallace sought to justify the cost of the new flagship to MPs on the Defence Select Committee in June as he argued the price tag was less than 0.1 per cent of the £13billion defence budget for shipbuilding over the next 10 years.
The vessel will be the first national flagship since Britannia, which was decommissioned in 1997.
The ship will be crewed by the Royal Navy and is expected to be in service for around 30 years.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, said: ‘Boris Johnson has lost control of his vanity yacht.
‘It is absolutely staggering that costs have rocketed by £100million in a week.
‘Labour would scrap the Government’s latest pet project and invest taxpayers’ money wisely to tackle crime and the surge in antisocial behaviour under this Conservative government.’