The rushed procurement of passenger ferry services for no-deal Brexit cost the taxpayers nearly GBP 85 million and could be repeated unless Whitehall steps up contingency preparations for an October 31 withdrawal, MPs warned.
A report from the public accounts committee revealed UK's Department for Transport had taken “excessive risks”, resulting in a GBP 33 million payment to Eurotunnel to settle legal action, plus the GBP 51.4 million paid to cancel its contracts when the Brexit deadline had been extended.
The committee dismissed DfT claims that the 33 million payment to Eurotunnel, which sued after being excluded from the process, would secure any public value. It said that promises to spend the payoff in border and security infrastructure at Channel Tunnel were “window dressing” and Eurotunnel would have invested "at least that amount of money, irrespective of the settlement."
Transport secretary, Chris Grayling, faced widespread calls for resignation over the ferry fiasco, that included the award of contracts to Seaborne Freight (company without any ships) and led to further legal action from P&O Ferries, that objected to the money paid to Eurotunnel. Two contracts to ensure ferry space for supplies in the event of holdups at Dover UK following Brexit was signed with Brittany Ferries and DFDS Seaways and scrapped in May 2019 without the services having been used.