News broke over the weekend of the government’s retraction of the controversial Seaborne Freight ferries contract. The original deal comprised of almost £14 million being awarded to the newly founded company by the British government in order to mitigate sea freight disruption in the event of a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit outcome.

After investigation by the BBC, it was found that the company had never run a ferry service, and the contract had continued to attract controversy since confirmation in December. The company owned none of its own ferries and upset was further compounded by scandals around the company’s directors, complaints of plagiarised (even copy and pasted) legal terms on their website, and Chris Grayling’s defence of the government’s decision to award Seaborne Freight the contract in the first instance.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has maintained that the newly founded company was “carefully vetted” before being awarded the contract, however Arklow Shipping, a major Irish shipping firm, withdrew from the deal this month. DfT were then forced to admit Seaborne would “not reach its contractual requirements”, causing them to scrap the deal entirely.

The Port of Ramsgate has not been used for some time and requires significant work before any commercial ferries can operate from its docks. The chair of a Kent residents’ group has gone as far as to call the port “obsolete”, claiming it’s “impossible” for the port to become an international border before 29th March. Speaking in the Leading Britain’s Conversations (LBC) studio, Ramsgate Action Group’s Steve Coombes described the dilapidated state of the port, including broken-down fences and concrete blocks over the freight entrance because of trespassing.

It seems clear that the port would need significant investment in operations and security before being able to handle any regular ferry services. Ramsgate council had been considering cutting the port’s funding – at the time of writing, these decisions have been put on hold at the request of Chris Grayling.

The government has stated that it is in “advanced talks” to find a replacement ferry firm to continue with proposed operations at the port. It’s not yet clear what alternatives remain in the event of a ‘No-Deal’ outcome, in which case it is suggested that just a couple of minutes of additional customs checks at the Dover-Calais route could cause catastrophic delays and disruption.

News broke over the weekend of the government’s retraction of the controversial Seaborne Freight ferries contract. The original deal comprised of almost £14 million being awarded to the newly founded company by the British government in order to mitigate sea freight disruption in the event of a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit outcome.

After investigation by the BBC, it was found that the company had never run a ferry service, and the contract had continued to attract controversy since confirmation in December. The company owned none of its own ferries and upset was further compounded by scandals around the company’s directors, complaints of plagiarised (even copy and pasted) legal terms on their website, and Chris Grayling’s defence of the government’s decision to award Seaborne Freight the contract in the first instance.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has maintained that the newly founded company was “carefully vetted” before being awarded the contract, however Arklow Shipping, a major Irish shipping firm, withdrew from the deal this month. DfT were then forced to admit Seaborne would “not reach its contractual requirements”, causing them to scrap the deal entirely.

The Port of Ramsgate has not been used for some time and requires significant work before any commercial ferries can operate from its docks. The chair of a Kent residents’ group has gone as far as to call the port “obsolete”, claiming it’s “impossible” for the port to become an international border before 29th March. Speaking in the Leading Britain’s Conversations (LBC) studio, Ramsgate Action Group’s Steve Coombes described the dilapidated state of the port, including broken-down fences and concrete blocks over the freight entrance because of trespassing.

It seems clear that the port would need significant investment in operations and security before being able to handle any regular ferry services. Ramsgate council had been considering cutting the port’s funding – at the time of writing, these decisions have been put on hold at the request of Chris Grayling.

The government has stated that it is in “advanced talks” to find a replacement ferry firm to continue with proposed operations at the port. It’s not yet clear what alternatives remain in the event of a ‘No-Deal’ outcome, in which case it is suggested that just a couple of minutes of additional customs checks at the Dover-Calais route could cause catastrophic delays and disruption.