A GOVERNMENT minister has denied that Brexit will cause problems for Portsmouth International Port, saying it will ‘continue to thrive.’
Shipping minister Nusarat Ghani MP claimed her department were currently in talks about the future of ports across the country, whatever the outcome of the UK leaving the EU.
Speaking at the opening of a new linkspan platform at Portsmouth International Port she said: ‘There’s a huge amount of investment in this port in Portsmouth not only by the local authority that manage it but also by Brittany Ferries and by other partners as well. And ports are a thriving business and will continue to thrive after Brexit.’
Fears about a no deal Brexit having uncertain consequences were first raised by the port’s boss, Mike Sellers. He said: ‘We should be preparing for March 2019 and using the facilities and whatever is needed to make sure we meet regulations of any new customs trade agreements.
‘We thought there would be a transitional period until December 2021 to give us time to make the right changes. It’s the uncertainty that is more worrying than anything.’
But Ms Ghani believed this would be resolved. ‘We’re having ongoing conversations with our port managers and our port authorities for a considerable amount of time,’ she said.
‘I run an inter-ministerial group that will look at a number of Whitehall agencies to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure our ports continue to be competitive and as frictionless as possible as they were going forward.’
Her fellow Tory MP and minister for exiting the EU, Suella Braverman, came under fire for not visiting the port amid these concerns.
Ms Ghani added: ‘I’m not aware of this situation but I know that the ministers are working very hard on Brexit and as I mentioned earlier I have an inter-ministerial group and the Department for Exiting the European Union team are invited to come and respond to our concerns across our ports and the minister Suella Braverman attends those meetings.’
Her vote of confidence in the port was echoed by Simon Wagstaff of Brittany Ferries, who have recently agreed to a 10-year contract with the port. He said: ‘Portsmouth is the single most important place for Brittany Ferries – 88 per cent of all our traffic comes through Portsmouth. It is a solid investment.
‘Despite Brexit we are confident of Brittany’s future here.’