Brexit Ferry Contract Awarded To Firm With No Ships Scrapped

9 February 2019, 07:14 | Updated: 9 February 2019, 16:58

The contract awarded to a controversial ferry firm to ease no-deal channel crossings on the port of Dover has been terminated, the Department for Transport has confirmed.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling's decision to award Seaborne Freight a contract worth £13.8 million was received with heavy criticism.

Seaborne Freight won the £13.8m contract to run a freight service between Ramsgate and Ostend in the event of a no-deal Brexit, despite having no boats and having not run a ferry service before.

But the department has since cancelled the contract after Arklow Shipping, an Irish firm that had backed Seaborne Freight, stepped away from the deal.

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Port of Dover
Port of Dover. Picture: Getty

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "Following the decision of Seaborne Freight's backer, Arklow Shipping, to step back from the deal, it became clear Seaborne would not reach its contractual requirements with the Government. We have therefore decided to terminate our agreement.

"The Government is already in advanced talks with a number of companies to secure additional freight capacity - including through the port of Ramsgate - in the event of a no-deal Brexit."

The department also said that no taxpayer money had been transferred to the company.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari previously, the Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay defended the contract by saying there were "protections built in".

But Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald called for Chris Grayling's resignation or for him to be sacked after the "humiliating" fallout over the no-deal ferry contract.