'A controversial no-deal Brexit ferry contract awarded to a firm with no ships has been cancelled by the Department for Transport after an Irish shipping firm that had been secretly backing the deal pulled out.
The decision by the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, to award Seaborne Freight a contract worth £13.8m had attracted widespread criticism and ridicule.
It was one of three firms awarded contracts totalling £108m in late December to lay on additional crossings from Ramsgate to ease the pressure on Dover when Britain leaves the EU, despite the company having never run a Channel service.
The department said on Friday it had decided to terminate the contract after Arklow Shipping, which had backed Seaborne Freight, stepped away from the deal.
A DfT spokeswoman said: “Following the decision of Seaborne Freight’s backer, Arklow Shipping, to step back from the deal, it became clear Seaborne would not reach its contractual requirements with the government. We have therefore decided to terminate our agreement.
“The government is already in advanced talks with a number of companies to secure additional freight capacity – including through the port of Ramsgate – in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”
The contract was cancelled a day after Grayling contacted Thanet district council to ask it to postpone a budget that would have shut down parts of the port of Ramsgate for use by freight shipping.'
Read more: Government cancels Brexit ferry contract with no-ship firm
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