P&O to register UK ferries under Cyprus flag because of Brexit

The Port of Dover in Kent

The Port of Dover in Kent - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Ferry giant P&O is to re-register its UK fleet under the Cyprus flag ahead of Brexit.

A spokesman for the firm said the six ships will be reflagged to enable them to continue to benefit from the tax arrangements of EU states.

The announcement follows a decision last month to re-register two of the ships in Cyprus.

A P&O spokesman said: 'In advance of Britain leaving the European Union on March 29, 2019, we undertook a review of the flag status of our ships on the English Channel.

'For operational and accounting reasons, we have concluded that the best course of action is to reflag all ships to be under the Cyprus flag.

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'The Cyprus flag is on the 'white list' of both the Paris and Tokyo Memoranda of Understanding, resulting in fewer inspections and delays, and will result in significantly more favourable tonnage tax arrangements as the ships will be flagged in an EU member state.

'We have no plans to make any other changes, including the terms and conditions of any of our seafarers, as a result of the new arrangements.'

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The Rail, Maritime and Transport union has previously described P&O's reflagging of UK ships as 'pure opportunism', claiming the firm's 'long-term aim has always been to switch the UK fleet to a tax haven register'.

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