Calais port chief hits out at 'completely disrespectful' Brexiteer

PUBLISHED: 09:07 06 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:17 06 February 2019

Chris Grayling. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

Chris Grayling. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

The chairman of the port of Calais has said he does not want to see transport secretary Chris Grayling again.

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Jean-Marc Puissesseau accused the Brexit-supporting cabinet minister of behaving in a “completely disrespectful” manner by planning to divert sea traffic from the port.

The government has awarded contracts worth more than £100 million to provide additional cross-Channel capacity in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Grayling has already come under fire for the awarding of one of the contracts, designed to ease the pressure on Dover if a no-deal Brexit causes delays, to a company with no ships which hopes to open a new route from Ramsgate to Ostend.

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Puissesseau told the Telegraph: “Mr Grayling came to us in November and asked us if we would be ready.

“We told him ‘yes’, though we did not know as much as we know today.

“He did not tell us that he wanted to reduce the activity (at Calais).

“It is not fair at all, it is completely disrespectful. I don’t want to see him again.”

He added: “We didn’t ask for Brexit, but we have spent the money for traffic to flow regularly.”

Grayling had claimed that criticism towards the Brexiteer came from Remainers who were attacking him for his Brexit position.

He said: “A lot of people out there want to frustrate the democratic will of the British people who voted to leave the EU and because I’m a prominent Brexiteer in the Cabinet who backs the Prime Minister’s deal I’m a lightning rod for the anti-Brexit brigade.”

Labour MP Virendra Sharma, a supporter of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, said: “Surely this is peak Chris Grayling, only this time he’s gone international.

“All he needs to do now is release a statement blaming everyone else and his predictable path of chaos will be complete.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “While the transport secretary strongly supports work across government with the EU to ensure a deal is reached, he will also continue to lead the DfT to ensure all contingencies are prepared for concerning Brexit.”

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