Chris Grayling criticised for Commons no-show following latest Brexit ferry fiasco

Posted On: 
4th March 2019

Chris Grayling has been criticised for failing to face MPs over the Government's latest ferry blunder, as Labour branded him an “international embarrassment”.

Chris Grayling leaving Downing Street in January
Credit: 
PA Images

The beleaguered Transport Secretary was accused of “disregarding” the House after Health Secretary Matt Hancock was sent to the Commons in his place to field questions on the decision to pay £33m to Eurotunnel over a bungled ferry contract.

On Friday Mr Grayling came under fire after ministers agreed an out-of-court settlement with the Channel Tunnel operator after they accused them of handing out “secretive” contracts.

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It came just two months after the Department for Transport was forced to cancel its contract with Seaborne Freight after it emerged the firm had no experience and owned no ships.

The firm was one of three ferry companies handed contracts worth around £108m in a bid to expand lorry freight capacity in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald said: " Chris Grayling’s incompetence has reached the point that he’s been ordered into hiding.  

"It’s not enough for the Prime Minister just to bench him. Grayling has wasted billions of pounds of taxpayers money and unleashed chaos on every department that’s had the misfortune of having him.  

"If Theresa May had any authority left she’d sack him."

Former Tory Cabinet minister Ken Clarke said: “It’s always a pleasure to see the Secretary of State for Health, but rather surprising on this occasion.”

Mr Hancock defended his colleague and the Government's action, by responding: "The decision we made on Friday was to ensure that we have the ferry capacity in place so that whatever happens in the Brexit scenario we can have the unhindered supply of medicine.

"That is the duty of this government, and that’s why the whole Government came to this decision."