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Monday, December 31, 2018

No deal, no commonsense

The UK Government's planning for a 'no deal' Brexit slipped from incompetent to farcical yesterday as it was revealed that have awarded a £13.8m contract to a British firm to run extra ferries in the event that we do jump over that cliff on 29th March.

However, as the BBC reveal, Seaborne Freight, who have been awarded the contract has never run a ferry service and a local councillor has said it would be impossible to launch before Brexit. The government said it had awarded the contract in "the full knowledge that Seaborne is a new shipping provider":

The Department for Transport said that "the extra capacity and vessels would be provided as part of its first services".

"As with all contracts, we carefully vetted the company's commercial, technical and financial position in detail before making the award," it added.

Conservative Kent county councillor Paul Messenger said it was impossible for the government to have carried out sufficient checks on the firm.

"It has no ships and no trading history so how can due diligence be done?" he asked.

Mr Messenger said he didn't believe that it was possible to set up a new ferry service between Ramsgate and Ostend by 29 March - the date when the UK is due to leave the European Union.

The narrow berths for ships at the Port of Ramsgate mean there are only a few suitable commercial vessels, most of which are currently already in service, he said.

Ferry services have not operated from Ramsgate Port since 2013 after cross-channel operator TransEuropa collapsed, owing around £3.3m to Thanet District Council.

Mr Messenger said he was "perplexed" at the choice of Seaborne Freight to run the service.

"Why choose a company that never moved a single truck in their entire history and give them £14m? I don't understand the logic of that," he said.

You couldn't make this stuff up.
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