Portsmouth MP calls for answers over port's £15m Brexit shortfall
A CITY MP has pressed government for answers over a £15m shortfall to prepare a port for Brexit.
Portsmouth South representative Stephen Morgan shared a question for transport minister Grant Shapps via a virtual link to the House of Commons today, sparked by concerns over Portsmouth International Port's readiness for new Brexit regulations in July.
As reported, the council-owned port applied for £32m of funding last year to cover necessary changes including a border control point for products of animal origin, one for live animals and to extend its freight gates.
However, only £17.m was provided, meaning the latter two facilities have been scrapped - still leaving the port £5.2m short for everything else.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Morgan said: 'With full customs checks coming in July what steps is he taking to secure the vital funding needed to ensure our local authority-owned port remains competitive, prosperous and that the chaos we saw at Dover in December does not become a reality in my city?'
In response, parliamentary under-secretary of state for transport Robert Courts MP, said: 'Through the ports infrastructure fund the government has taken unprecedented approach, supporting as many ports as possible through grants. Portsmouth was awarded more than £17m, the third largest amount awarded to any port which is extremely significant funding.
'And I know of course that his city is part of the successful Solent freeport bid, something that I am sure he will welcome.'
But Mr Morgan said this was 'not realistic'.
Speaking to The News he said: 'Our port contributes around £390m to the national economy each year, so it is frankly absurd that government continues to slow the port’s progress to adapt to its own new border operating model.
'Government cannot continue to chronically under-fund our local council, but meanwhile expect it to cough up the cash for this huge infrastructure project. It just is not realistic.
'The minister for EU negotiations has the power and influence to resolve this, so I expect to hear how they plan to fix this problem very shortly, with no answers forthcoming from the transport minister today.'
Port director Mike Sellers also previously told The News he believed the necessary changes would not be ready by July 1.