Labour blasts government for having 'all the wrong priorities' amid Downing Street lockdown party fiasco

DOWNING Street’s ‘party-gate’ fiasco must not distract ministers from tackling post-Brexit border bureaucracy and getting Britain’s ‘trade back on track’, Labour has demanded.

By Tom Cotterill
Friday, 28th January 2022, 7:10 pm

The call was made by the party’s shadow trade minister, Bill Esterson, during a visit to Portsmouth International Port with city MP Stephen Morgan.

Mr Esterson was touring the transport hub to see the progress on its new multi-million pound border control facility and hear how the port was coping with Brexit.

The new border control post – expected to be finished by April – is being built as part of a £17.1m investment in the port to prepare it for life after Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Labour's shadow business minister, Bill Esterson with Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, visiting the International Ferry Port, Portsmouth on Friday 28th January 2022 Picture: Habibur Rahman

Read More

Read More
Hampshire man jailed for numerous attempts to communicate sexually and meet with...

But there are concerns that increased border checks and bureaucratic red tape could lead to chaos when the facility goes live from July, impacting import and export trade in the city.

Speaking to The News, Mr Esterson warned the government must not be distracted by the investigation into the parties staged at Downing Street during lockdown.

‘Unfortunately, the government seems to be entirely focused on saving the prime minister’s job when what we really need is for them to concentrate on delivering more jobs for British people and addressing the cost of living crisis, the raise in energy prices,’ he said.

‘At the moment because of the distraction over what’s gone on in Downing Street during the pandemic, the government has all of the wrong priorities.’

SEE ALSO: Paedophile football coach found guilty of sexually abusing boysPortsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said the city’s port was a critical component to Britain’s economic success, as the second-busiest cross-Channel port.

He added: ‘My constituents are so angry by the behaviour of this prime minister and this government. I’ve heard heartbreaking stories of the sacrifices that people have made in recent years during the pandemic and it was very clear that the prime minister thought it was one rule for him and one rule for everyone else.

‘People are angry, people want to see the prime minister go and they want to see him go immediately.’

But Tory trade minister Penny Mordaunt has fired back and insisted the government’s eyes remained focused on ramping up import and export opportunities.

The Portsmouth North MP has today written to top officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, cabinet office and Department for Transport advising them of the issues facing the port – which is estimated to bring in £390m to the national economy.

‘Last Friday I met with the port management and Brittany Ferries – as I do every few weeks to help on the transformation of the port,’ she added.

‘I’ve secured millions for the border control posts, kept the live border control post a viable project, secured millions more of levelling up funds to transform the passenger terminal and more.

‘This has been done with hard work and partnership, not grandstanding and hand-wringing.’

The new border control point will create more than 100 new posts and be responsible for checking plant and animal products, with refrigerated units for chilled and frozen goods, inspection rooms and cross docking abilities, where cargo can be unloaded and checked easily.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

You can subscribe here for unlimited access to our online coverage, including Pompey, with 70 per cent fewer adverts for less than 20p a day.