For want of something more sensible to do, The Telegraph is campaigning for the return of the royal yacht Britannia, which was taken out of service in 1997.
"Bring back Britannia to rule the waves after Brexit"
This folly seems based on the same broken logic as The Sun’s campaign to bring back the blue passport - that dewy-eyed nostalgia for 1950s Britain can somehow make everything OK (or at least distract readers from the harsh realities of modern life).
Presumably we should expect campaigns in the coming weeks to bring back national service, corporal punishment and polio.
If we needed any immediate assurance that this is a bad idea, the Telegraph reports Boris Johnson thinks it’s a good idea.
"Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, is understood to be considering a detailed proposal to return the yacht to the seas. Sources said he sees it as "a great symbol of global Britain"."
That’s Boris Johnson who also thought the garden bridge in London was a good idea and who spent millions on the disastrous resurrection of London’s Routemaster buses and backed a little-used cable car in Docklands. The man shouldn’t be trusted with a lunch budget, much less millions to squander on any more whimsical white elephants.
In an effort to insult the intelligence of the few remaining countries we've not yet offended this year, the Telegraph claims Britannia will make Britain a more powerful force in international trade, as hapless foreign types will be powerless to resist the smooth talking 'men from the ministry' arriving in the New World on a shiny boat. In the Telegraph’s nostalgic view of the world, Kings and Queens of exotic lands will no doubt lavish rare furs, precious jewels and plundered antiquities upon our trade delegates as they sip gin and play quoits on the deck after weeks at sea.
There’s no evidence amid all this anachronistic arrogance to suggest a costly and inefficient yacht will make any difference - or ever did. The Telegraph claims it is "estimated" that back in the 1990s (when the UK was still a prominent member of the EU of course) the "yacht helped secure £3billion of trade deals" from "world leaders and business figures".
"Helped secure" and "estimated" are hardly the strongest foundation for any argument. There is certainly no reason to believe these deals couldn’t have been done elsewhere. Meanwhile there is certainly every reason to believe fewer deals would be done by yacht now. The world has moved on. In an age defined by technology and high-speed connectivity, with private jets and the rapidly changing diary commitments of busy people, business moves quickly. Yachts however move slowly.
As such, the only purpose this campaign really serves is to provide us with yet another metaphor for Brexit, because while the rest of the world moves forwards at speed there are those in Britain intent on seeking out the next backwards step to inflict upon our regressing country.