Government to spend £50 million cancelling no-deal Brexit ferry contracts
PUBLISHED: 11:40 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:39 01 May 2019
Ferry contracts made by the Department for Transport in preparation for a no-deal Brexit are reported to have been cancelled at an estimated cost of £50 million.
Three firms had received contracts worth over £100 million to run extra services in the event of a no-deal scenario.
The cancellation suggests the government no longer believes a no-deal Brexit is a likely scenario.
With Brexit delayed first to April 12 and secondly to October 31, the government no longer requires the services of Brittany Ferries, DFDS and Seaborne Freight.
The companies had been asked to provide additional routes to supplement Dover to Calais traffic.
Seaborne Freight's controversial contract - as the company owned no ships when it signed its £13.8 million government deal - was cancelled in February.
Chris Grayling's Department for Transport has also settled a legal challenge with Eurotunnel with a £33 million agreement.
The National Audit Office estimated in February that the maximum cost of compensation to ferry operators if contracts were terminated would be £56.6 million, but a Whitehall source said the actual figure was expected to be around 10% lower.
Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “The Brexit ferry chaos on Chris Grayling's watch has moved from farce to national scandal with the taxpayer picking up the bill.
“If he had listened to the maritime unions none of this would have happened.
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“Grayling has reduced the shipping industry in this island nation to a global laughing stock.”
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “Chris Grayling and the ferry contracts will for evermore be a case study in ministerial incompetence.
“The Transport Secretary's approach to procurement and planning has cost taxpayers tens, if not hundreds, of millions of pounds.
“His career as a minister has left a trail of scorched earth and billions of pounds of public money wasted.
“This country cannot afford Chris Grayling.”
Virendra Sharma MP, who is a supporter of anti-Brexit campaign Best for Britain, said: “The man with the reverse Midas touch strikes again.
“Much more of surprise than Chris Grayling's most recent failure is the fact he's still got a job.
“When you mix an intractable problem like Brexit with an incompetent Secretary of State, you're setting yourself up for a big fall.
“Millions of pounds have been wasted as a result.
“This is the latest episode in the sorry saga that is Brexit.
“Instead of pushing forward with a failing project, we must give this decision back to the people so that they can have the final say.”