It’s time for us to put the great back in Great Britain

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For too many years now, it feels we have been regressing as a nation. These days we seem to be somewhat embarrassed by the ‘great’ in Great Britain and have distanced ourselves from our past. Patriotism feels like a bad thing in 2012.

Well, I say that now is the time for us to put that great back into Great Britain. Let’s build on the momentum of last year’s Royal Wedding, which showed us at our best.

With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics in London, the world’s eyes will be upon us. So the time is right for us to build a new royal yacht to replace the much-loved Britannia.

This ship had always been a symbol of our nation’s pride. Any country knew Great Britain and the Queen were visiting when she lay at anchor on its shores.

Britannia’s importance to the government was huge. You could justify her alone by the role she played supporting foreign policy and promoting this country abroad.

Many meetings were held aboard and deals won on her decks that may not have succeeded if talks had been held in a less impressive location.

I suppose that after the death of Princess Diana and with Tony Blair wishing to make a statement, the time felt right to retire Britannia.

But how wrong they were to send her away to Edinburgh. Her natural home always was and always will be here in Portsmouth.

She’s gone now, but we have the opportunity to build a worthy successor. We need a boost in morale and we need an international symbol this nation can be proud of. This ship could provide both.

For me there are two conditions. She must be built in the UK and NOT entirely funded by private money.

With the threat of job losses at BAE Systems, to build a new royal yacht in Portsmouth would be such a fillip to the city. Surely we have the capability?

Secondly, public money should also fund this along with the private sector. If not, can you imagine the Queen arriving in Gibraltar with the Virgin Money logo brandished across her ship’s hull?

We need an international statement. The American president has Airforce One, so we should have a new royal yacht.