Taxpayer on the hook as UK scraps Brexit ferry contracts


LONDON (AP) — The British government said Wednesday it was scrapping Brexit-related contracts with ferry companies at a cost to taxpayers of tens of millions of pounds (dollars) after the ferry deals sparked a political and legal firestorm.

“Freight capacity contracts for the summer period are no longer needed and have therefore been terminated,” the Department for Transport said.

The ferries were part of the government’s planning for a “no-deal” Brexit in case Britain leaves the European Union without an agreement on divorce terms and future ties.

That could cause gridlock at ports by ripping up the trade rulebook and imposing tariffs, customs checks and other barriers between the U.K. and the EU, its biggest trading partner.

But the contracts came under fire earlier this year when it emerged that one firm involved had no ships and no experience running a ferry service.

Gold Bars Discovered in House of Democratic Senator Are Connected to Armed Robbery, Records Show

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling defended the contracts, saying they had been a prudent “insurance policy.”

The department said Wednesday that the cost of canceling the deals is a bit lower than an estimate given by auditors, 56 million pounds ($73 million).

The government also had to pay 33 million pounds ($43 million) to settle a lawsuit from cross-channel rail operator Eurotunnel, which alleged that it had been improperly excluded from bidding for post-Brexit freight contracts.

The government is now being sued by P&O Ferries, which claims the payout to Eurotunnel puts it at a competitive disadvantage.

The government put no-deal planning on hold after Britain’s departure was postponed from its originally scheduled date of March 29 until Oct. 31 amid political gridlock in Britain over withdrawal.

Prime Minister Theresa May struck a divorce deal with the EU late last year, but Britain’s Parliament has rejected it three times. May has failed to persuade many Brexit-backing lawmakers from her own Conservative Party to support an agreement that they think keeps Britain too tightly bound to the bloc’s rules.

The government has held several weeks of talks with the opposition Labour Party about striking a compromise, but the meetings have not produced a breakthrough.

May’s Downing Street office said Wednesday that ministers and civil servants would continue “to take whatever decisions are required to make sure we are prepared in the event of a no-deal scenario.”

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands. Photo credit: @AP on Twitter
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
New York City