So, the election is over and it is safe to say that it is now fully concluded, with no big repercussions to worry about, umm… right?
Now the only thing left on Britain’s to-do list is to walk the plank and get Brexit over and done with. It’s going to be a pretty hideous process: We’re ripping up free trade and a customs union for the illusory prize of “sovereignty”. But hey - the politicians have been telling us what a big opportunity it is for Britain to sign new trade deals around the world. Because who needs the enormous single market just across the channel, when we could be selling stuff to smaller economies much further away?
Anyway - all of these trade shenanigans raise an interesting question: How can we persuade other countries just how great Britain is, once we’ve thrown away the shackles of peaceful cooperation with our closest neighbours?
Britannia Rule The Waves
Enter the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was used by the Queen until 1997. Since it has been moored in Edinburgh, and has been transformed into one of Scotland’s top tourist attractions. But soon, if the Telegraph gets its way, it could soon be raising anchor and setting sail once more.
The Daily Telegraph thinks that once we’ve Brexited, we should bring the yacht back into service - then lovely Kate Middleton can sail around on it, seducing foreigners with our massive boat and persuading them to sign trade deals.
Yes, that’s seriously the plan. What could possibly go wrong?
Because the Telegraph is read mostly by retired colonels and the sorts of Brexiteers who fetishise a 1950s that never actually happened, the paper has been pushing it fairly heavily, and even has a special logo on yacht-related stories.
“Theresa May opens door to recommissioning of Royal Yacht Britannia”, they excitedly reported last September. Tory MP Jack Berry, one of the campaign’s biggest supporters, even persuaded Boris Johnson to back the plan.
Sadly for Berry though, and jumped-up Brexiteers everywhere, today we can exclusively reveal that the plans have almost certainly gone nowhere, and that the Telegraph’s plan hasn’t been taken at all seriously by any government department, as far as we can tell.
Nobody Cares About This Stupid Yacht
Over the last few months, we’ve been sending Freedom of Information requests to a number of government departments, that might have something to do with the yacht, should it be brought back into service. We wanted to find out if they’d been doing any preparatory work on it at all, so asked departments for any documents related to the yacht created after the EU referendum.
In some cases, departments refused to tell us, citing the cost of looking it up (a provision in the FOI allows this), so we asked more specifically for any reports or briefings prepared for the department’s minister about the yacht. After all - Boris backs the plan! You would think that he was paying close, personal interest in the plan to revive it.
So it is our sad duty to report then that having contacted the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Exiting the EU, and BEIS (the Business department), they all confirmed that they held no documents relating to the yacht. And we’re not saying that they’re slightly embarrassed that the enthusiastic words have turned into no action, but after dragging their feet for ages we finally got the BEIS response… on election day, when no one would be paying attention.
It even appears that National Historic Ships UK, the body which oversees Britain’s historic fleet, and the Scottish government haven’t done any work on recommissioning the yacht, even though you’d think that if the plans were serious, they’d be totally bricking it about Scotland losing a major tourist attraction.
We also contacted the press office for the charity that oversees the Royal Yacht now (which isn’t subject to FOI). Sadly, we got no response - though unlike the government departments, they were under no obligation to respond to us.
To be clear - each of these bodies confirmed they had no documents relating to the yacht. They can refuse FOIs on the basis of, say, formulating government policy, but if they were to do that, they would still have to confirm whether such documents exist. In the case of this stupid boat, they have literally done zero preparatory work, judged on this evidence.
So much for “Global Britain” - it seems that the entire government decided to give the idea of reviving the yacht a wide berth. Now we’ll never be able to sail the world and ingratiate ourselves with foreigners by reminding them of our imperial past.
Sorry, Telegraph readers, it appears that the Brexit yacht is sunk.