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I’m having a right Grayling today


You know when you’re just having one of those days? Column by Arlen Pettitt for The Journal

You’ve spilled your coffee. You’ve left your lunch in the fridge. You sent that important email to Geoff in marketing instead of Geoff in accounts. You’ve accidentally awarded a public contract for No Deal Brexit ferry services to a company with no ferries, faced a lawsuit and ended up giving another company £33 million.

Oh sorry, have I lost you? Maybe that last one’s only applicable to Chris Grayling.

I wasn’t going to write this column about Brexit, I really wasn’t. I was going to give everyone a break, like when I decide to treat myself and sit in the car in silence instead of listening to the Today programme.

Then the news broke about the Government’s legal settlement with Eurotunnel over the Seaborne Freight contract for No Deal Brexit ferry services.

So, here we are with another Brexit column. I couldn’t stop myself, sorry.

With Brexit now arriving sooner than I could get an appointment at my dentist, the preparations Government are making for every eventuality are rightly in the headlines.

The £33 million settlement with Eurotunnel, who had argued they should have been contacted as part of the process of awarding No Deal ferry services, was painted by the Department for Transport as supporting wider No Deal preparations with a statement saying “this agreement will ensure the Channel Tunnel is ready for a post-Brexit world.”

My immediate thought was to question how, exactly, the rest of the nation’s businesses are supposed to get Government support in their Brexit preparations, when the nation’s most obvious and tangible link to mainland Europe was required to take legal action?

At the end of February, the Department for Exiting the EU published a paper on No Deal preparations, concluding in its final line that “the lack of preparation by businesses and individuals is likely to add to the disruption experienced in a no deal scenario.”

The suggestion that business should have been preparing sooner is frankly ridiculous – they’ve spent the last two and a half years asking for the clarity to allow them to do so.

Instead, we’ve entered March with every conceivable option still on the table and the Government not bringing the proposed deal to a vote until 17 days before we’re due to leave.

So, the next time a minister blames business, you’ll excuse me if I turn off the radio.