No-deal ferry firm has no ships
He’s accused of arrogance as he tells UK: Get your act together
A SHIPPING company awarded a multi-million pound contract to move goods in the event of a no-deal Brexit has no ships, it emerged yesterday.
Seaborne Freight was given a £13.8million contract by the Government to run extra ferries if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
But concerns have been raised about the proposed operation between Ramsgate in Kent and Ostend in Belgium as the firm has no ships, has never run a ferry service and has no trading licence.
Conservative Kent county councillor Paul Messenger said it was impossible for the Government to have carried out sufficient checks on the firm.
‘Why choose a company that never moved a single truck in their entire history and give them £14million? I don’t understand the logic of that,’ he said.
Mr Messenger said he did not believe that it was possible to set up a new ferry service by March 29, the date when Britain is due to leave the EU.
The Department for Transport said it awarded the contract knowing ‘that Seaborne is a new shipping provider’.
The company insisted it would launch its freight service before March 29. Chief executive Ben Sharp said the firm had been founded by ‘seasoned shipping veterans’.
The UK will spend more than £100million chartering extra ferries to ease ‘severe congestion’ at Dover, in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
JEAN-CLAUDE Juncker was hit by a furious backlash yesterday after he claimed most MPs ‘deeply distrust’ Theresa May over Brexit.
The EU Commission chief told the UK to ‘get your act together’, and insisted it is not for Brussels to find a way through the impasse over the Irish ‘backstop’.
Asked yesterday what the EU’s future relationship with Britain should be, he said: ‘It is not us who are leaving the UK – it is the UK that is leaving the EU. I find it entirely unreasonable for parts of the British public to believe that it is for the EU alone to propose a solution for all future British problems.
‘My appeal is this: get your act together and then tell us what it is you want. Our proposed solutions have been on the table for months.’
he said if MPs ratified the deal next month, talks on the future relationship could begin immediately and would not have to wait until after March 29, when the UK leaves the EU.
Taking aim at MPs who claim Brussels is trying to keep Britain in the bloc, he said: ‘I have the impression that the majority of British MPs deeply distrust both the EU and Mrs May. It is being insinuated that our aim is to keep the United Kingdom in the EU by all possible means. That is not our intention. All we want is clarity about our future relations. And we respect the result of the referendum.’
The intervention enraged MPs, with former Tory leader Iain duncan Smith warning that Mr Juncker had ‘picked on the wrong nation’. he added: ‘Juncker has descended yet again into shallow arrogance in lecturing the UK. They’re trying to say it’s the UK’s fault, that they don’t know what we want, but of course they know – this is just a stupid game.’
Fellow Tory MP Andrew Rosindell said: ‘Mr Juncker has severely underestimated the British spirit if he thinks the people of this nation will capitulate to his threats.’
Mr Juncker’s intervention follows a heated summit earlier this month, which saw the Prime Minister confront him and angrily accuse him of calling her ‘nebulous’. Mrs May is still hoping Brussels will offer concessions on the Irish backstop to help it pass a Commons vote. MPs want ‘legally binding’ reassurances that the backstop – designed to prevent a hard border emerging in Ireland – will be time limited.
Cabinet minister liam Fox threw his weight behind Mrs May’s deal, telling The Sunday Times that if MPs failed to back it in next month’s vote ‘I’m not sure I would give it much more than 50-50’ for Britain to leave the EU.
A No 10 spokesman said: ‘discussions with EU partners have shown that further clarification on the backstop is possible and these discussions are continuing to secure the legal and political assurances Parliament need.’
Heated: Mrs May confronts Mr Juncker earlier this month