Boris Johnson: Commentator backs PM to win next election
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The vessel will be used to host trade fairs, ministerial summits and diplomatic talks as the UK seeks to build links and boost exports following Brexit. It will be the first national flagship since Britannia, which was decommissioned in 1997.
However, the new vessel will be a ship rather than a luxury yacht.
A name for the vessel has not been announced, although the Prime Minister is already facing pressure from campaigners and Tory MPs to call it after the Duke of Edinburgh, who played a role in designing Britannia.
The Government intends to build the ship in the UK, at a reported cost of up to £200 million.
Mr Johnson said: “This new national flagship will be the first vessel of its kind in the world, reflecting the UK’s burgeoning status as a great, independent maritime trading nation.
“Every aspect of the ship, from its build to the businesses it showcases on board, will represent and promote the best of British – a clear and powerful symbol of our commitment to be an active player on the world stage.”
The announcement of the vessel comes at the end of a difficult week for the Prime Minister, which has seen him savaged by former chief adviser Dominic Cummings, who claimed the Government was responsible for tens of thousands of needless deaths during the coronavirus pandemic.
He has also faced claims that his past comments about burka-wearing women had contributed to an impression that the Conservative Party is “insensitive to Muslim communities”.
And the ministerial sleaze watchdog said he was “unwise” to allow the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat to go ahead without “more rigorous regard for how this would be funded”.
Construction of the new ship is expected to begin as soon as next year, and it will enter service within the next four years.
The tendering process for the design and construction of the vessel will launch shortly, with an emphasis on showcasing British design expertise and the latest innovations in green technology.
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The ship will be crewed by the Royal Navy and is expected to be in service for about 30 years.
The Global Britain strategy is set on the Government’s website.
A statement published in 2019 explained: “The UK has always taken a leading role in responding to global challenges and in making the most of opportunities for our country.
“However information and influence are dispersed and contested amongst many more actors, both state and non-state.
“This, and the pace of change in an ever more challenging global environment, inevitably have a significant impact on how the UK government projects influence and protects its national interests.”
It added: “The shifting global context, a new relationship with Europe, and the need to deliver more with finite resources, requires us to evolve and enhance how we achieve our goals.
“We need to use government assets more cohesively and efficiently to maintain our global standing.
“Global Britain is about reinvesting in our relationships, championing the rules-based international order and demonstrating that the UK is open, outward-looking and confident on the world stage.”
Speaking in the Commons last year, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “As we enter this decade of renewal, the government will engage in a thorough and careful review of the UK’s place in the world.
“We will strengthen our historic trading ties, as we leave the EU, whilst boosting UK competitiveness by tapping wider global markets.
“We want strong trade with our existing EU partners, they are important and valuable as a market for us – I don’t think that anyone doubts that.
“And we are making good progress in paving the way for our first round of future free trade agreements with the rest of the world.”
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