Eurotunnel drops court case over botched post-Brexit ferry contracts after £33m agreement

PUBLISHED: 10:46 01 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:35 01 March 2019

Transport secretary Chris Grayling. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Eurotunnel has withdrawn its legal claim against Chris Grayling’s Transport department over post-Brexit ferry contracts after reaching an agreement worth up to £33 million, the government has said.

I see ferries!!! Illustration by Martin RonsonI see ferries!!! Illustration by Martin Ronson

The firm, which operates the Channel Tunnel, was challenging the department’s decision to award contracts worth £108 million to three ferry companies at the High Court.

But the government announced a deal with Eurotunnel to “deliver improvements which will ensure the Channel Tunnel is ready to continue to keep passengers and freight moving post-Brexit” such as better security and traffic flow at the border.

This will protect the “vital freight capacity” purchased from ferry operators to help ensure the continued supply of “crucial medicines, medical supplies and veterinary medicines in a no-deal scenario”, the government statement said.

MP Wes Streeting, speaking on behalf of the People’s Vote campaign, said the settlement showed Brexit was “descending into a colossal waste of time and money.”

He said: “Another £33 million of taxpayers’ money is now being thrown away thanks to the shambolic mismanagement of leading Brexiter Chris Grayling and his inexplicable, secretive decision to hand a lucrative contract to a ferry company with no ferries.

“The amount of money already wasted on Brexit won’t be recovered, meaning less money for vital areas like the NHS, education and defence. This debate is no longer about wild claims, theories or predictions and now that there are new facts about the real cost of Brexit, there should be a new vote that gives people a real say.

“With more and more money already wasted on Brexit, and with the cost set to spiral even further, it is vital that the public are given the final say over this process. That’s why huge numbers will be marching through London on March 23 demanding that Brexit is put to the people.”

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The agreement with Eurotunnel secures the Government’s additional freight capacity, helping ensure that the NHS has essential medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“While it is disappointing that Eurotunnel chose to take legal action on contracts in place to ensure the smooth supply of vital medicines, I am pleased that this agreement will ensure the Channel Tunnel is ready for a post-Brexit world.”

Last month the government terminated a £14 million ferry contract with a company that owned no ships after Irish company Arklow Shipping, which had backed Seaborne Freight, stepped away from the deal.

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