The bungling of the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, in securing a ferry contract in the event of a no deal Brexit has costed taxpayers £33million in legal fees.
As the UK Government have continued to provide no clear answers on the impact of awarding a ferry contract to a company without any boats I asked the Brexit Minister what other costs have been discovered. Additional costs may now occur because many of the contracts were drawn up with the 29 March date and not the new 12 April date.
Yet again I received no clear answer and instead received a comment that there is simply nothing to see here. I won’t stop pressing for complete transparency on how our money is spent.
Following the Secretary of State for Health’s response to my question, I raised my serious concerns that the Minister wasn’t fully briefed on the Urgent Question and was giving inaccurate information in response to questions. I would not let the wasting of £33million of taxpayers money rest with no proper answer.
The Health Secretary decided to respond to my point of order and floundered at the Dispatch Box. The real Secretary of State for Transport should have been answering questions, not a minister with no involvement in this area.
The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, has just had to settle a court dispute with the Channel Tunnel company as he did not fulfil his legal duties when signing the doomed contract with Seaborne Freight – the ferry company with no ferries.
Labour secured an urgent question to pull the Secretary of State before the House to answer why he has cost taxpayers £33million. What we got instead was the Secretary of State for Health. Yes, the minister responsible for the NHS in England was answering questions on a failing by the minister responsible for ferries. In other words, the Secretary of State for Transport was running away from his mistakes.
I asked the Minister if at any point the Secretary of State was informed that his decision could lead to a legal challenge from the Channel Tunnel company. No answer was forthcoming.
Wasting public funds in such a reckless way is shameful and the Secretary of State should do the right thing and resign.
Labour secured an Urgent Question on the failed contract signed by the Transport Secretary with a ferry company who had no ferries.
During his statement, the Transport Secretary said that not one penny had been spent by his department in this terrible deal, which has now been cancelled. However, civil servants and lawyers aren’t free so it must have cost us taxpayers money.
I pressed the Minister as to how many civil servants and lawyers had worked on this contract and what cost it had to the taxpayer. As no answer was forthcoming I have tabled a series of Written Questions to the Secretary of State and will keep pushing for a response.
We cannot allow a government to mismanage our public finances. It was clear from the start that signing a contract with a company with no ferries, a copied and pasted contract from a takeaway and a business owner who owed HMRC tax that this was never going to work. Yet the Secretary of State ploughed ahead.