Chris Grayling cancels ferry contracts at extra £50m cost to taxpayers

Transport secretary has axed further deals made to ensure imports under a no-deal Brexit

The ferry contracts signed to ensure critical imports under a no-deal Brexit have been cancelled at a cost of another £50m to the taxpayer.

The latest payout joins an accumulating bill for the contracts awarded by the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, including £33m compensation to Eurotunnel for the botched process.

Almost £1m was paid to consultants for a £14m contract with Seaborne Freight, which was scrapped after it emerged the company had no ferries.

Contracts worth £89m with Brittany Ferries and DFDS to secure ferry space for vital goods across the Channel have been cancelled. According to National Audit Office estimates in February, the cost of compensation to ferry operators for termination would be £56.6m but the Department for Transport said the figure was expected to be around 10% lower.

With significant congestion forecast on the main freight route through Dover and Calais, the government commissioned extra ferry services from ports including Plymouth, Poole and Portsmouth. But with the date of Brexit pushed back from 29 March to 31 October, the contracts have been cancelled, possibly indicating the government is no longer anticipating a no-deal Brexit.

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