DEFENCE Secretary Ben Wallace has told MPs that he has terminated the competition to build a "national flagship" yacht with immediate effect.

It follows reports that Rishi Sunak had sunk the £250m project touted by Boris Johnson. 

The replacement for the Royal Yacht Britannia was part of the UK Government's bid to boost trade deals post-Brexit

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The two private firms bidding for the contract were told on Monday morning that the project was being axed, reports said.

Wallace told MPs he was prioritising the procurement of the multi-role ocean surveillance ship (MROSS) instead of the flagship.

He said: “In the face of the Russian illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and (Vladimir) Putin’s reckless disregard of international arrangements designed to keep world order, it is right that we prioritise delivering capabilities which safeguard our national infrastructure."

That meant he had “also directed the termination of the national flagship competition with immediate effect to bring forward the first MROSS ship in its place”.

The National: An artists impression of the now-scrapped £250m yachtAn artists impression of the now-scrapped £250m yacht

John Healey MP, Labour's shadow defence secretary, told the House of Commons he welcomed Johnson's "vanity project" being scrapped. 

The plan was championed by Johnson when he was prime minister but has faced criticism from MPs at a time when there are other priorities for defence spending.

The vessel had been expected to be constructed in the UK and then take to the water in 2024 or 2025, and would have toured the world as a “floating embassy”.

We previously told how the cost of the expensive yacht jumped from 25% from £200m to £250m last year.

Previously, Johnson was warned that his plans for the vessel would "backfire" due to the lavish price during the cost-of-living crisis and would boost the Yes case.