Defence minister hammers a nail in the last-ditch bid to save Illustrious

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A DEFENCE minister has hammered the final nail in the coffin of a bid to save Britain’s last working aircraft carrier from the scrapheap.

Harriett Baldwin has snubbed last-ditch calls to reopen the bidding process of the former HMS Illustrious.

It comes after Lusty – as the ship is affectionately known as – was moved to a tidal berth yesterday in preparation for her final voyage from her Portsmouth home.

Dr Julian Lewis, chairman of the Defence Committee, asked whether the government would not approve Lusty’s move to Turkey until the new £15m bid to purchase her for preservation had been ‘fully considered’.

Responding, defence procurement minister Ms Baldwin said: ‘The departure of the hulk of Illustrious from HM Naval Base Portsmouth will allow the Royal Navy to prepare for the arrival of the first of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, in 2017.

‘We have considered the merits of the outline proposal made by a business consortium to purchase Illustrious and concluded it is not sufficiently viable to cancel the sale of the vessel for recycling.’

Lusty is expected to leave Portsmouth to a breaker’s yard in Turkey on Wednesday, weather depending.

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