The U.K. has awarded contracts worth 108 million pounds ($137.2 million) to charter extra ferries for freight shipments between southern England and the rest of Europe in the event that a no-deal Brexit creates bottlenecks at Dover’s port, the BBC said.
Department for Transport officials hired Brittany Ferries of France, Danish shipping firm DFDS and U.K.-based Seaborne Freight for so-called roll-on roll-off ferries to carry about 4,000 extra trucks a week from Portsmouth, Plymouth and Poole should the U.K. lack a post-Brexit agreement with the European Union, the BBC said.
“The government has the power to stop no-deal at any time but instead is spending millions in last-minute contracts,” Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable told the BBC. “The fact that this money is predominantly going to European companies is nothing short of ironic, reducing Britain to a laughing stock on the global stage.”
Bloomberg news reported last month that U.K. government officials were making contingency plans to mitigate effects such as border controls and congestion that a Brexit without an agreement would have on its ports after March 29.
“This significant extra capacity is a small but important element of the Department for Transport’s no-deal Brexit planning,” according to an emailed statement from the DfT, which said the additional capacity is about 10 percent of existing channel traffic at Dover.
The agreements will ensure shipments of vital goods continue even without a Brexit accord, the department said.