Cameron sinks Gove's yacht

A new royal yacht would not be an "appropriate use of public money," says No. 10.

"Some ideas are so stupid," George Orwell wrote, "that only an intellectual could believe them". Michael Gove's suggestion that, in these straitened times, £60m of public money should be used to buy the Queen a new royal yacht falls into this category. It was a perfect example of what the novelist Joyce Carey once described as a "tumbril remark" - the sort of statement seemingly designed to ignite class war. Marie Antoinette's infamous (and likely apocryphal) riposte to the news that the poor were suffering due to bread shortages ("let them eat cake") is the most celebrated historical example.

Thankfully (and inevitably), Gove's yacht has now been torpedoed by messrs Cameron and Clegg. The PM's official spokesman has said it would be not be an "appropriate use of public money given the state of the nation's finances", while Nick Clegg has observed that a new yacht for the Queen is not top of the public's "list of priorities".

One only wonders why we have heard nothing from that bastion of frugality, the TaxPayers' Alliance.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Tony Blair suggests second EU referendum: "Remain voters are not an elite"

The former Labour PM said the facts of Brexit may change minds. 

Tony Blair has floated the idea of a second EU referendum after the terms of the Brexit deal has become clear.

The former Labour Prime Minister told the BBC "you can't just dimiss the 16m people" who voted Remain.

He said: "If it becomes clear that this is either a deal that doesn't make it worth our while leaving, or alternatively a deal that's going to be so serious in its implications people may decide they don't want to go, there's got to be some way, either through Parliament, or an election, or possibly through another referendum, in which people express their view."

Asked whether he was telling the 17m voters who wanted to leave the EU that they were wrong, he said: "You can't just dismiss the 16m people either and say their views are of no account. 

"And by the way, that 16m don't represent an elite, they represent people who genuinely believe that in the 21st century for Britain to leave the biggest political union and the biggest commercial market right on our doorstep is a serious mistake."

There is no way the Brexit decision can be reversed "unless it becomes clear that once people see the facts they change their mind," he said.

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.