Jeremy Corbyn attacks Chris Grayling over ‘fiasco’ of cancelled Brexit ferry contract

Jeremy Corbyn attacks Chris Grayling over ‘fiasco’ of cancelled Brexit ferry contract to boatless Seaborne Freight

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attacked Transport Secretary Chris Grayling over his handling of no-deal Brexit ferry contracts. Image: Parliament TV.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has attacked Chris Grayling over the "fiasco" of having to cancel a no-deal Brexit ferry contract with a company that did not have any boats.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, the opposition leader branded the cancelling of the contract with boatless ferry firm Seaborne Freight a "spectacular failure".

“The government’s handling of Brexit has been costly, shambolic and deliberately evasive," Corbyn said.

"Nothing symbolises that more than the fiasco of Seaborne Freight. A company with no ships and no trading history. On the 8th January the Transport Secretary told the House: ‘we’re confident the firm will deliver the service'".

"What went wrong?".



Seaborne Freight came under the fire after they were awarded the £13.8 million contract to run services between Ramsgate and Ostend in the event of a no-deal Brexit, despite having no boats.

Their contract was cancelled earlier this month after an Irish shipping firm that had been backing the deal pulled out.

Corbyn further attacked the Transport Secretary during the Commons discussion by listing his "failures" before asking the Prime Minister "how on earth" she could have confidence in Mr Grayling.

"The spectacular failure of this contract is a symptom Mr Speaker of the utter shambles of this government and its no-deal preparations,” he said.


'Due diligence' 

Ms May defended Mr Grayling, saying that "due diligence" was carried out on the ferry contract.

She said: "That’s what the Transport Secretary is delivering: commitment to transport in this country and commitment to transport across the whole of this country.”

Corbyn also quoted the National Audit Office, which found that £800k was spent assessing the bid by Seaborne Freight.



"The Transport Secretary told the House that this decision to award a contract to Seaborne Freight had no cost to the taxpayers,” he said.

Mrs May responded that due diligence always costs a bit of money.

She added: “No money was paid to the contract. No money would be paid until services were delivered. And therefore no money has been paid to that contract.”