Following news that the UK Government awarded a lucrative ferry contract to a company that has yet to run a ferry service, Alyn Smith MEP has written to the European Commission to request an investigation into the UK Government’s procurement process.
Seaborne Freight has been awarded a £13.8m contract to run extra ferries in the event of a Brexit ‘no deal’. The UK plans to spend £108m chartering extra ferries to ease congestion at Dover, and the Department for Transport claims that an “unforeseeable situation of extreme urgency” meant the contracts could not be put out to tender. Should ‘no deal’ be averted, the firms will still keep a portion of the award.
“This was not unforeseeable, and the current Brexit last-minute bodge is a problem entirely of the UK Government’s own making. It can’t just throw public money at a problem to make it go away.
“The first time we heard about these contracts was afterthey’d been awarded, and that’s something that only happens in a crisis. Public money is being wasted by a desperate government trying to provide an illusion of action.
“I’m aware of considerable unease within the Civil Service about how these contracts are being allocated, and that other ferry operators are going to be making complaints.
“Procurement processes may not be the most exciting-sounding topic in the world, but they exist to make sure that we get value for the public pound and to ensure businesses operate with free – and fair – competition.
“Brexit is going to be such a stramash if it actually goes forward that could be used as a pretext for all sorts of things. As 29th March is looming, we need to make sure that this government is well aware that it cannot ignore procurement rules in the way that I believe they have in this case.”