Britain’s transport secretary was under fresh pressure to resign after the government stacked up a 50 million pound loss for cancelling contracts for extra ferries to bring in essential supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The decision to award the contracts has been a major political embarrassment after it emerged the government handed out a 14 million pound contract for extra ferries to a company that owned no boats and published terms and conditions on its website that appeared to be for a takeaway food business.
Then, the government was forced to pay a further 33 million pounds to settle a lawsuit brought by Eurotunnel, which complained that it was unfairly prevented from bidding on the ferry contracts, which were negotiated in secret.
The botched handling of the contracts led to transport secretary Chris Grayling being nicknamed “failing Grayling” by local newspapers.
The contracts were originally awarded four months ago as part of the government’s broader strategy to ensure Britain was not left without key supplies, with significant congestion forecast on the main freight route between Dover and Calais.
The government put its contingency plans on hold after European Union leaders agreed last month to push back the date of Brexit to as late as the end of October.
“Chris Grayling and the ferry contracts will evermore be a case study in ministerial incompetence,” said Andy McDonald, the opposition Labour’s transport spokesman.
“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.”