EU Exit Preparations: Ferry Contracts

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:57 pm on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 2:57 pm, 5th March 2019

I will finish the chronology, and then I will give way.

Finally, I raised the point again on 14 February with the Secretary of State for Transport, asking him what he meant by a “change in the assumptions”. I asked:

“Would he care to elaborate on exactly what he meant by that? Does he think that that defence will stand up in court?”

Those were my exact words. He said:

“I recall explaining on Monday precisely what the circumstances were, and I do not want to detain the House any longer by repeating an answer that I gave to the hon. and learned Lady three days ago.”—[Official Report, 14 February 2019;
Vol. 654, c. 1038.]

Again, he had an opportunity to say that the explanation was a requirement to secure the urgent supply of medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit, but he did not. In fact, he told me that he had already told me precisely what the circumstances were, three days before, when he referred to a change in assumptions and said nothing about medicine.

I am going to give way to Charlie Elphicke in a moment, but the point I am making is that this is just an example of the number of times that I have pursued this question. I know that other hon. Members have done so too, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Kilmarnock and Loudoun and for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan). They have pursued in some detail their concerns about the supply of medicines after a no-deal Brexit, and never has anyone said to them, “Don’t worry, we so are concerned about this that we have risked breaking the law on competitive tendering to sort it all out.” That is why I am highly sceptical.