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Coffee House Steerpike

Chris Grayling’s ferry company fails to deliver

3 January 2019

1:09 PM

3 January 2019

1:09 PM

There have been a number of signs already this year that the government, after months of dragging its feet, may now be struggling with its preparations to get Britain ready for a potential no-deal Brexit in March.

Last week, the hapless transport secretary Chris Grayling came under fire for giving a contract to provide extra ferries between Ramsgate and Ostend in the case of no deal to ‘Seaborne Freight’ – a company which has no ships, no record of chartering them, and no trading history.

Facing widespread criticism, the transport minister has since gone on air to defend the company, insisting that his department had done the necessary due diligence before giving Seaborne the contract, and arguing that ‘It’s a new start-up business, government is supporting new British business and there is nothing wrong with that’.

But Mr Steerpike has to wonder how much scrutiny the transport department has actually applied to a company which may be needed to provide vital freight services to keep Britain’s ports running in March. In a sign that the company might not be that professional an outfit, the terms and conditions listed on Seaborne Freight’s website (since removed, but available here) seem to have been copied word for word from a takeaway business, asking customers to make sure they ‘thoroughly check the supplied goods before agreeing to pay for any meal/order.’

For a contract worth £14m, Mr S wonders if it might be cheaper for Grayling to opt for pizza next time…

UPDATE: Department for Transport has provided a clarification:

‘This section of the terms and conditions on the company’s website was put up in error. This is being immediately rectified.’


The terms and conditions mix-up isn’t the only blunder on Seaborne Freight’s website. A ‘portal login’ is, in fact, a screenshot that directs people back to Google…

User portal login

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