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The rule of law is a luxury the UK can no longer afford as it grapples with Brexit, according to procurement professionals.

As claims of illegality shadow the procurement process for Seaborne Freight’s ferry contract, Chartered Institute of Procurement Specialists’ economist John Glen told The Loadstar: “We have to ask whether the ferry services solve the problem government is grappling with, regardless of the legality of this move and the timing for any potential challenge.

“Because even if the companies have access to vessels and the ports have dredges to allow ships to access the port, what of the ongoing journeys by lorry?”

UK transport secretary Chris Grayling has faced mounting calls to justify the contract to Seaborne Freight to provide ro-ro services in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

These have been amplified by the Transport Select Committee’s decision to open an investigation not only into Seaborne Freight’s contract, but those with two other operators.

But Mr Glen said: “We no longer have the luxury of arguing the merits of the procurement and supply chain process, even if this urgency increases the probability of bad decisions.

“The provision of additional capacity will certainly alleviate some transport difficulties and some of the chaos in a no-deal scenario – even if it’s only half the solution.”

However, Mr Glen added that the government must not overlook the “key issue”: simplicity of systems.

“The key issue is simple systems to allow trucks to present documentation, pay their duties away from the point at which they cross the Channel,” he said.

“If the document-checking process is ineffective at ports, it will cause huge delays and additional costs anyway.”

To find out more about Brexit and the supply chain, come to The Loadstar Live’s one-day seminar at TOC Europe in Rotterdam, on June 19th. More details soon…

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  • Richard M

    February 06, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    Hmm, perhaps look more closely at who is behind ‘Seaborne Freight’. It’s been around for years as a website, but made absolutely no progress at all in actually getting a service going, and shown no evidence that it has the skills and resources ever to do so.

    Ironically both Mr Grayling and Seaborne Freight would probably welcome a legal battle because it would provide an indefinite excuse not to provide the service it has seemingly been commissioned.