Leading article: Britannia II will not rule any waves

Yesterday was probably not the best time to float the idea that the nation might give the Queen a new yacht for her Diamond Jubilee. Not only were ships in the news for all the wrong reasons, but it was Blue Monday – a day of national moroseness when, it might be presumed, taxpayers would be especially averse to spending millions on a present for someone who could easily stump up for her own yacht if she chose.

You can never quite tell with governments and daft ideas, and it was mooted that such a yacht would not be for the Queen's exclusive enjoyment, but a national flagship available for commercial use around the globe. Fortunately, wiser counsel soon prevailed, with a spokesman for the Prime Minister responding that it would not be "appropriate to use public money at this time". Quite so. But this still leaves the obvious question unanswered: how come the Education Secretary even thought it worth a punt?

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