The National:

THE UK has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, and the second highest total in the world.

But fear not, a lord has come up with a surefire way to cheer everyone up.

Non-politically aligned peer and haircut conspiracy theorist Lord Digby Jones has called for £100 million to be spent on a new Royal Yacht Britannia to “boost morale”.

The ship, which is a visitor attraction in Edinburgh, was decommissioned in 1997.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon has the perfect response to lord's hair tweet

The former Labour minister and CBI chief proposes that that the bill could be footed jointly by taxpayers, businesses and the National Lottery.

With Nicola Sturgeon yesterday warning Scotland is facing an “economic emergency”, it’s an idea which is sure to resonate with Scots taxpayers.

Jones told the Telegraph’s Chopper's Politics podcast that he wanted to see work start next year.

"Why now? [It would be] one of the biggest morale boosts you can have. You'd have it doing tours of Britain, and open days you'd be amazed how many people will come to that,” the peer said.

"And why now? Because the nation is going to come through this in better shape. If we actually believe in ourselves. That's what we need to believe in ourselves...

"We have a damn good chance in this country and a royal yacht at this moment would just be one of those good quality delivery messages."

Unfortunately for Jones, the delivery of his message was not of the highest quality, coming on the day the First Minister issued her dire economic warning. Meanwhile, the UK Government announced it would not be extending a free school meals voucher scheme for English pupils over the summer holiday.

Put in that context, £100m for a boat does appear to be somewhat steep.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: 'We are now dealing with an economic emergency'

But perhaps we're not looking at the big picture.

Brexiteer Tory MP Mark Francois claims the boat would be worth every penny as a tool for promoting a post-Brexit eutopia.

He said: “Economically, we cannot tax our way out of Covid-19 so we will have to grow our way out, in which case a new royal yacht, as a floating embassy, but with strict biosecurity measures built in, would be a real asset in helping British business showcase ourselves.”

And although us little people, the taxpayers who would help fund the yacht, may not get to enjoy it, tax-dodging billionaires would have a whale of a time!

Former environment secretary Owen Paterson added: “The most powerful multi-billionaire would do anything to get an invite. It was an incredibly stupid decision to get rid of Britannia.”

But not everyone was convinced.

Comedian David Baddiel posted: “I’m not seeing a lot of positive comments under here but we know Twitter is a bubble that doesn’t reflect a lot of the country. In fact I think in the country at large people will consider it to be the worst f****** idea anyone’s ever had.”

Holyrood minister Michael Russell also commented.

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan was another who had a few concerns about the lord’s masterplan, tweeting: “He is entitled to his opinion but many of my constituents who are struggling and about to enter economic strife will not agree. Just add it to the list of nonsense including HS2, bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland and nuclear weapons and subs etc.”

MP Stewart McDonald added: “To any Tory MP that actually backs this, I invite you to spend a day with me in my constituency and see how morale boosting it would actually be. We’ll start in Castlemilk and I’m willing to bet you give up before we get to Croftfoot...”

It seems Digby Jones’s latest brainwave is yet another example of Westminster politicians trying to sell taxpayers down the river.