Vital medicines to enter the UK via Portsmouth in the event of a no-deal Brexit thanks to £86m contract

A FERRY company has won a government contract to transport vital medical supplies into the UK via Portsmouth in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Friday, 11th October 2019, 7:43 pm
Portsmouth International Port. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Brittany Ferries, which sails from Portsmouth International Port, is one of four firms that would take on the £86.6m freight deal after October 31.

DFDS, P&O and Stena Line also signed contracts and would use ports in Teesport, Hull, Killingholme, Felixstowe, Harwich, Tilbury and Poole.

The contracts would last up to six months and see the transportation of as many as 3,000 lorries carrying much-needed medication. 

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Transport secretary, Grant Shapps at Portsmouth International Port. Picture: Habibur Rahman

It is understood the contracts would be cancelled at a cost of £11.5m to the taxpayer if the UK and the EU reach a Brexit agreement. 

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Brittany Ferries’ UK managing director, John Napton, said: ‘We have the flexibility in both our fleet and route network to allow us to help the UK government with the shipment of critical products like medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

‘In the last weeks, we have been working on a series of Brexit dry-runs, to ensure that freight keeps moving whatever framework we face on November 1.

‘These dry-runs have involved ports on both sides of the Channel, customs staff, border force and other partners.

‘We are confident that we have made the necessary preparations for all our customers, including the Department for Transport, to ensure that freight keeps moving as seamlessly as possible.’

The announcement comes a day after the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, visited Portsmouth’s port for UK Infrastructure Day.

He saw freight unloaded from a Brittany Ferries’ ship, Mont St Michel, and visited the £492,000 triage point for port-bound lorries at Tipner West. 

He was also given an £844,000 Brexit bill by Portsmouth’s council leader, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, in a bid to recoup the city’s no-deal spending. 

On today's new freight contract, he said today: ‘The UK is getting ready to leave the EU on October 31 and, like any sensible government, we are preparing for all outcomes.

‘Our decisive action means freight operators will be ready and waiting to transport vital medicines into the country from the moment we leave.' 

The contract's eight ports and the 13 routes they will operate were chosen because they are 'less likely to face disruption’ with no Brexit deal.

Mr Shapps said yesterday Portsmouth port was ready to handle the challenges of a no-deal Brexit. 

Fears for health supplies spiked last month when documents revealed by prime minister Boris Johnson cited possible medical shortages.