The UK’s new national flagship has sunk before it even set sail.
The country’s new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, is set to scrap the $280 million project in his upcoming round of spending cuts, as reported by The Mirror. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed the “first-of-its-kind” flagship last year as a means to promote British interests. Not everyone was on board, though.
The project has been widely criticized by both political parties amid the UK’s cost of living crisis. The estimated cost of the flagship rose from $223 million (£200 million) to $280 million (£250 million) last year, despite the Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) original budget of $168 million (£150 million).
“This complete waste of taxpayer money has obviously been sunk,” former Labour defense minister Kevan Jones said. “And quite right, too. The navy never wanted it in the first place, and it was just one big Boris Johnson vanity project.”
The MoD has already spent nearly $2.8 million (£2.5 million) on staff and consultants attached to the project. A number of shipbuilders, designers and architects also put forward proposals as part of a competition, but, apparently, none were greenlit. Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid, Philippe Starck and Gresham Yacht Design were just some of the big-name hopefuls with a hat in the ring.
“The MoD has not assumed any liability for costs incurred by bidders in the design competition,” defense secretary Ben Wallace said. “And no design or manufacturing contracts have been placed.”
The flagship would have replaced the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was decommissioned in 1997. It was expected to hit the water by 2025 and to be in service for around 30 years. It would have been crewed by the Royal Navy.
The original Britannia is currently open to tourists in Leith, Edinburgh. As for Britannia 2.0, the MoD says an announcement about the new flagship “will be made in due course.” Here’s hoping it’s on the cheaper side.