EU Exit Preparations: Ferry Contracts

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:45 pm on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy) 3:45 pm, 5th March 2019

Once again, I thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this debate. I also thank all Members who have taken part, particularly the two Conservative Members, whose contributions in trying to defend the Transport Secretary unwittingly made our case for us in terms of how big a farce this has really been. There was a ludicrous defence of the Transport Secretary by Charlie Elphicke, who stated the whole Government were to blame for being too late in undertaking contingency planning. With the Transport Secretary also advising us suddenly of a collective Cabinet decision, we now know we have collective Cabinet incompetence, which says all we need to know about this Government and the leadership of the Prime Minister.

Despite having had nearly three hours of debate, the reality is that we still have no clarity about what the £33 million to Eurotunnel gets us and what, if anything, is being withheld by the Government in event of a withdrawal agreement being reached. We have had no reasons for the court climbdown on Eurotunnel’s challenge, nobody has been able to answer the questions on isotopes from my hon. Friend Carol Monaghan, and we have had no justification for how this whole procurement exercise is suddenly a medicine-led exercise. We have had no clarity or justification on the rationale for pursuing an exemption in competitive tendering on the basis of the regulation 32 exemption for unforeseeable circumstances, and no answers to the detailed questions from my hon. and learned Friend Joanna Cherry.

Many Members have called for the Transport Secretary’s head, although, as I said earlier, it goes much wider than this. There was a classic oxymoron from the Transport Secretary: in defending his approach to the contingency planning he said that sometimes risks have to be taken. It undermines the point of contingency planning if he is actually willing to take risks. I will finish with this: the longer he stays in post is a risk too far for the United Kingdom. Again, I thank Members from across the House for their contributions.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House
has considered the latest developments in the UK Government ferry contract awards for no-deal preparations.