(Update February 9th: The deal with Seaborne Freight was cancelled due to its proposed port of use being unsuitable.)
The Tories lack the work ethic and the intelligence needed to prepare properly for Brexit and they won’t know what form Brexit will take until very close to the departure date, March 29th 2019. It could be a cliff-fall no deal Brexit or a botched Tory deal; the current deal, agreed between the Tories and the EU, has yet to be tested in a parliamentary vote.
Whichever deal (or not) prevails there will be a huge jolt to the infrastructure of Britain. In particular, the supply of essential goods from Europe could be severely delayed or prohibited. The jolt will be much worse if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
Part of the Tory plan to lessen the fall-out from delays is to hand over millions of pounds to ferry companies “for the supply of additional freight capacity on ferry services between England and The Netherlands and England and Germany in order to minimise the potential disruption of trade across the Short Straits in the event that the UK leaves the EU without an agreement.” Approximately £57m of public money will be given to two ferry companies, £44m to Det Forenede Dampskibs-Selskab and £13m to Seaborne Freight.
The Danish ferry company is a real business but Seaborne Freight is entirely fictitious.
Created out of thin air, Seaborne owns no ferries, has no monetary or physical assets, no employees and no access to credit. However, earlier in 2018 Thanet District Council, a Tory council, stated its intent to sign an agreement with Seaborne for its use of Ramsgate Port. Steve Coombes, from Ramsgate Action Group, described the absurdity of the proposed deal in Ramsgate Action Group on Seaborne. As Coombes noted, the reactivation of Ramsgate Port would be important for the town’s economy and, thus, useful for the Tories in the next council elections. But, pretending to have a plan to bolster the port’s trade could also help the Tory council. The government’s offer of £13m to Seaborne for post-Brexit transport of vital goods would give the appearance of providing the made-up company with the financial assets it needs to satisfy an agreement with Ramsgate Port and consequently would assist the Tory council’s election prospects.
Seaborne Freight does not exist in a viable form. The government’s agreement with it has been driven partly by stupidity – hello Chris Grayling – and partly by intrinsic venality of the Tory party.
Many more such agreements – all including a lot of public money being handed over to charlatans – will be signed by members of the Tory cabinet in 2019, before and after Brexit. Brexit is a windfall for criminals and the Tories are their enablers.