EU Exit Preparations: Ferry Contracts

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:58 pm on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Secretary of State for Transport 1:58 pm, 5th March 2019

That is a very good question, and I have raised the point myself. Those who were inquiring into the bona fides of these companies were restricted in the scope they were given. Why on earth they did not look into the track record of the individuals concerned at Seaborne is beyond me, as these things are well known. A mere cursory search of Google tells us about the track record of Ben Sharp in his dealings in the Gulf, but seemingly that was not considered. The hon. Gentleman makes the point well.

Let me return to the settlement that was achieved on 1 March. I want to know why the Department for Transport was so confident about winning the case only a week before. What brought the sudden change in strategy towards the legal challenge? The Department clearly thought it could win. Who intervened? What was the view taken by other Departments—the Department of Health and Social Care Health, the Treasury and Downing Street? Why did they take a different view from the Department for Transport? Why did the Government not settle earlier? Why did they leave it so late? Why did they continue to employ Monckton Chambers and a QC and two barristers, who do not come cheap? How much was spent on this case, both on Government legal fees and Eurotunnel’s fees? Will the Secretary of State say who made the decision to settle with Eurotunnel over the £33 million provision of emergency medical supplies in the event of no deal?