Moves to recommission the Royal Yacht Britannia and use it to help secure trade deals for the UK post Brexit are gaining momentum, with MPs and business leaders backing the project.
Before being decommissioned in 1997, the Royal Yacht Britannia is estimated to have helped secure billions of pounds of trade deals in the 1990s.
MPs, former ministers, business leaders and military figures are now reported to be backing the campaign by The Telegraph newspaper to recommission the vessel.
It is hoped that the yacht can be used to drum up trade deals in the wake of the vote to leave the EU.
The Royal Yacht Britannia is currently a tourist attraction in Edinburgh, moored in the Port of Leith. Earlier this year, it was judged Scotland’s best attraction by Visit Scotland.
Among those reported to be supporting the campaign to recommission the yacht are the foreign secretary Boris Johnson, former foreign secretary Lord Hague and Lord Heseltine, who was president of the Board of Trade from 1992 to 1995.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Lord Heseltine said it was a mistake not replacing the Royal Yacht Britannia when she was decommissioned.
“She was a symbol of many things about this country we have now not got. It was the wrong decision but I full understood the pressures on the Government of which I was a member. In the internal debate I wanted to replace it,” he told the newspaper.
It is also believed that recommissioning the yacht would also boost links with the Commonwealth.
A debate on the matter will be held in Parliament next month, led by the Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry.
Two options will be debated – recommissioning the original yacht or building a replica.
The cost of the project will also be examined, with Berry looking at way of raising funds without the use of public money.
The Royal Yacht Britannia was the Queen’s private yacht between 1954 and 1997, and is now looked after by the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust.
Part of the National Historic Fleet, the vessel attracts around 300,000 visitors a year.
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