Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images
UK transport secretary defends Brexit contract for firm with no ferry experience
‘I make no apologies for supporting a new British business,’ Chris Grayling says.
Updated 1/2/19, 2:35 PM CET
U.K. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on Wednesday defended awarding a contract to operate ferries in the event of a no-deal Brexit to a company with no experience in running a ferry service.
“I make no apologies for supporting a new British business,” Grayling told BBC radio’s Today program, adding it is a “tightly drawn-up contract that requires them to deliver.”
The company, Seaborne Freight, was awarded a £13.8 million contract to operate a freight service between the ports of Ramsgate in the U.K. and Ostend in Belgium. The company so far does not own any ships nor has ever run any, the BBC reported.
Grayling said the company has been “looked at very carefully by a team of civil servants” who “reached a view they can deliver.” The transport secretary added he thinks Seaborne Freight is “on track to be able to run ferries in April.”
The British government said earlier this week it has awarded the contract in “the full knowledge that Seaborne is a new shipping provider.”
Grayling stressed he is “expecting the Channel ports to operate normally in all Brexit circumstances.”
“I’ve had detailed discussions with the French, the French counterparts. They want the ports moving freely, and I’m confident that will happen. We’re putting in place a bit of extra capacity for the start of the Brexit process just to ease the pressure on the ports,”