UK pulls Brexit ferry deal from firm with no ships

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - WORLD - —AFP

Lon­don: Weeks of pub­lic snig­ger­ing and in­dig­na­tion cul­mi­nated Satur­day when the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment can­celled a ferry con­tract it had awarded to a firm with no ships. The is­land na­tion’s breakup with the Eu­ro­pean Union took an odd turn in De­cem­ber when it handed the un­her­alded Se­aborne Freight com­pany the £13.8-mil­lion deal.

It was meant to make sure that cross-Chan­nel trade with its clos­est trad­ing part­ners did not grind to a halt if Bri­tain ended up leav­ing on March 29 with­out new ar­range­ments in place. Fears of the dreaded “no-deal Brexit” are ris­ing as the clock nears the hour when the United King­dom ends its 46 years in­volve­ment in the Eu­ro­pean project. The agree­ment Lon­don and Brus­sels sealed in De­cem­ber is cur­rently stuck in the UK par­lia­ment.

Many law­mak­ers op­pose it and Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s ef­forts to get sweet­en­ers from the EU that could help push it over the line are be­ing re­buffed.

The Se­aborne Freight con­tract was the small­est of three emer­gency ferry deals trans­port sec­re­tary Chris Grayling qui­etly ap­proved over the Christ­mas break. But it quickly be­came the most fa­mous -- or per­haps in­fa­mous -- when re­porters dis­cov­ered that Se­aborne Freight was a startup that had never ac­tu­ally been in­volved in this line of work.

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