News

Royal yacht: Internet floats better ways to spend £250m

Social media users have other ideas on where we could sink the £250m budget for Boris Johnson’s 'vanity' yacht.

Boris Johnson has faced derision after it emerged his flagship Royal Yacht Britannia project could cost £250m – at least £50m more than previously anticipated. 

Angry Twitter users, and even one of his own MPs, fumed after defence secretary Ben Wallace revealed the new price tag for what has become known as Johnson’s “vanity” project.

Rachel Clarke, a palliative care doctor, said the colossal sum would “cover the annual salary of – literally – 10,000 NHS nurses”.

David Schneider, comedian, actor and government-troll-in-chief, reminded the PM of his disastrous decision to resist Marcus Rashford’s free school meals push. “Fun fact,” he said. “Boris Johnson’s nice new boat will now cost £250m or over ten times more than the free school meals he refused to give to hungry kids.”

Bywire News exposed the hypocrisy of the government’s spending choices. “So Boris Johnson’s Royal Yacht will cost up to £250m – which is supposedly perfectly affordable. But completely eradicating rough sleeping would cost an extra £82m a year – and apparently we can’t find the money for it. Says everything you need to know about this government,” they said.

This Twitter user also chose to highlight Boris Johnson’s priorities, listing what the UK says it can’t afford, including feeding poor children and decent public sector pay, and what it can.

And Dan White, a carer, had some moving words that brought home the effects of government policy. “All our support has been eroded by cuts,” he said. “I get £67 a week carers allowance for round the clock care. I’ve just bought another washing machine on the credit card.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, had some typically colourful remarks, accusing Johnson of “spaffing money up the wall”.

And Johnny Mercer, who resigned as defence minister in protest at the government’s approach to veterans in Northern Ireland, also put the boot in.

The new estimate for the yacht emerged at a so-called engagement day to discuss the new flagship yacht.Defence secretary Ben Wallace said: “Subject to working through bids, competition and technology, I aim to commission the ship for between £200m and £250m on a firm price.

“The competition will run until the end of October. I hope to announce the winners in December.”

Labour announced it would scrap the plans if it came into power. Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, called for the money to be spent on areas such as tackling crime and anti-social behaviour.  

In May, analysis by The Big Issue found that at a previously estimated cost of £200m, the yacht budget could fund: 

  • A full term of free school meals for every child who needs them
  • 6,000 new nurses (or 5,700 with a proper pay rise)
  • A reversal of UK’s drastic foreign aid cuts
  • £20 per week Universal Credit increase for a year for nearly 200,000 families
  • And stop more than 140,000 people falling into homelessness

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
AI in schools: Bullies using AI to create sexually explicit images of classmates, parents warned
Artificial Intelligence

AI in schools: Bullies using AI to create sexually explicit images of classmates, parents warned

'Get a grip' and act on reality, not prejudice, MP Liam Fox tells his Tory colleagues
Liam Fox
Politics

'Get a grip' and act on reality, not prejudice, MP Liam Fox tells his Tory colleagues

Why the general election could and should be fought on the frontier of poverty
Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner on the first day of the general election campaign
General election 2024

Why the general election could and should be fought on the frontier of poverty

From the NHS to levelling up: Here are all the broken promises after 14 years of Tory rule
General Election 2024

From the NHS to levelling up: Here are all the broken promises after 14 years of Tory rule

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know