Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he wants Britain to become a shipbuilding superpower, again. At his last annual party conference, conducted in cyberspace due to the pandemic, Johnson heralded a renaissance in a British industry that, in the 1890s, controlled more than 80% of the global ship manufacturing market but contracted sharply in the second half of the 20th century.
In his conference speech, the prime minister invoked a recent controversy over a patriotic song written in the 1700s: “Rule Britannia.” The anthem, with its rousing chorus of “Britannia rules the waves” has incurred the wrath of progressive Brits who regard it as an anthem of empire and oppression. Traditionalists though, including Johnson, see it as an exuberant celebration of the United Kingdom’s history of maritime supremacy.
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