IT is April 1953 and the John Brown shipyard rings with gasps then cheers as Queen Elizabeth makes the much-anticipated announcement of the new royal yacht's name.

Champagne was considered too great an extravagance in post-war Britain so a bottle of Empire wine was smashed against Britannia's hull before she plopped into the waiting waters of the Clyde.

Boris Johnson, famously a great admirer of Winston Churchill, perhaps wants to ape his hero with a new royal ship commissioned and launched under his prime ministerial term.

It certainly seems a bit of history repeating itself, the country being in dire financial straits yet the building of a floating palace considered a reasonable outlay.

As a concession to our post-Brexit, post-pandemic strictures, perhaps by the time the new HMY Philip comes to launch, Her Majesty might smash a bottle of Blossom Hill to balance out the budget.

But listen, there's been an awful lot of naysaying about the government's proposal for a new royal yacht. A snip at just £200 million, the ship would be a floating tribute to Prince Philip and what a perfect tribute for a sailor who loved a party. HMY Britannia cost around £11m a year in upkeep but these are piddling sums.

And it's not as though we'd have to pay for it. The prime minister has previously said the boat should be privately funded and given to the royal family as a gift. Private funding of luxury fixtures and fittings? What could go wrong.

It's a step up from the finance route suggested the last time plans for a royal yacht were mooted. In 2017 a group of Conservative MPs came up with a wheeze for a new national lottery that would allow loyal subjects to pay in money and receive the gift of knowing they had contributed towards facilities for one of the country's richest women.

If only there was some other way of doing this, some set up where people could contribute money to a central pot and have it reallocated to pay for public services. Someone should take a look at that gap in the market.

With £200m, say the moaning minnies, you could buy 87 million school meals. Add in the annual upkeep costs and we could tackle homelessness. How short sighted.

Conservative MPs have said this ship will be a swashbuckling symbol to the world that the UK is open for business. A floating advertising hoarding, marketing the country around the globe.

Where once we sailed to foreign shores, stuck a flag in nearest patch of soft earth and claimed the land as common wealth, now we anchor off the coast of impressionable countries and show them the best of Britain from the cocktail deck. Don't get too excited, Scotland, about the thought of invigorating our shipyards. The last royal yacht came from Clydebank so we've had our turn.

Still, in a post-Brexit landscape there are certainly plenty of idle fishing trawlers waiting to be repurposed.

In 2019, before becoming prime minister, Mr Johnson told a hustings that he would ask the Queen if she wanted a new Royal Yacht Britannia if he secured the top job.

"The crucial thing is that it should be something that Her Majesty herself actually wants," he said at the time. "I have not established that. I don't think we should embarrass her - put it that way - by imposing it on her."

The PM might like to consider that same hurdle this time also. It sounds as though, if anyone's going to need talked round, it's going to be the Queen.

After 69 years in business, Her Majesty has a sense for the public mood and she's canny enough to spot that now is not the time for indulging in luxuries to be used by the super rich.

Saying that, what Britain needs is cheering up. Here's the chance.

Why built a yacht to be used by the few? As foreign travel becomes environmentally unjustifiable and difficult in light of the pandemic, why not cruises on board HMY Philip? Seacations for all.

Let's revamp that lottery idea and give everyone a shot at a royal yacht holiday. Call it A Shot on a Yacht. Down the Clyde, over to Millport, a gad round Loch Ness.

Otherwise, politicians with even a slight grain of sense should be running from this plan like rats from a sinking ship.