A Fresh ‘Failing Grayling’ Ferry Fiasco?
A report by the Public Accounts Committee reveals that time is running out for the Transport Secretary to re-order contracts to bring in supplies if the Hallowe’en Brexit deadline is met.
Chris Grayling is facing a fresh fiasco over new ferry contracts to bring in goods if Britain leaves the EU on 31 October.
The Transport Secretary, known as “Failing Grayling”, has already cost some £3.5 billion in lost revenue and overspending in his three ministerial jobs since 2010.
But, a report by the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee published today reveals that he has just 21 days left to re-order contracts to bring in supplies if either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt sticks to the Hallowe’en Brexit deadline – deal or no deal.
This is because all ferry companies demand three months notice to put on extra services or expand capacity.
And, the report reveals that the decision has to be a political one and Theresa May’s Cabinet has still not taken it.
Mr Grayling has already landed the taxpayer with a £51.4 million bill for lost contracts – including one with a company with no ships, plus an “out of court” settlement with Eurotunnel, which the Department for Transport.
P & O ferries is suing the ministry for a further £33 million and the report reveals that the Government has decided to fight the ferry firm in the courts.
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The report is scathing about the ministry’s “rushed procurement “and “excessive risks” in the previous deals which are now in danger of being repeated.
Meg Hillier, chair of the committee said: “The taxpayer has been landed with a £85 million bill with very little to show for it following the rushed procurement of ferry freight capacity. This £33 million Eurotunnel settlement comes on top of the money paid to cancel the ill-fated ferries deal.
“Public benefits from the settlement with Eurotunnel amount to little more than window dressing. The department needs to keep a close eye and ensure that Eurotunnel deliver what is promised.”
More scathing details of the Eurotunnel fiasco are revealed in the report.
The Transport Secretary, known as “Failing Grayling”, has already cost some £3.5 billion in lost revenue and overspending.
The company originally sued for £80 million and the department thought it could drag out the case until after the last Brexit deadline of 29 March. Instead, the company got an expedited hearing and the ministry caved in and settled out of court.
But, there are now questions over the deal, since the money is to be spent on schemes the company would have to do anyway, such as security and strengthening the border. So far £11 million has been paid over by the ministry and it has promised to monitor how the money is spent and try to claw it back if necessary.