UK government rejects plan to build national flagship

LONDON (AP) — Britain's Conservative government on Monday scrapped a 250 million-pound ($288 million) plan to build a national flagship that was supposed to tour the world as a “floating embassy" amid a public spending squeeze and to prioritize funding for boosting U.K. defenses against Russia.

New Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sunk the plan to create a successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was retired in 1997. The new flagship was championed by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but critics had slammed it as a vanity project.

Parliament's defense committee warned last year there was “no evidence of the advantage to the Royal Navy of acquiring the national flagship," which would cost around 250 million pounds to build as well as up to 30 million pounds a year to run.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said he was instead prioritizing the procurement of multi-role ocean surveillance vessels, which will protect undersea cables and pipelines amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

“In the face of the Russian illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and (President Vladimir) Putin’s reckless disregard of international arrangements designed to keep world order, it is right that we prioritize delivering capabilities which safeguard our national infrastructure,” Wallace said.

The Associated Press