Chris Grayling 'banned from Calais' amid bitter no-deal Brexit row with port chief

Written by Matt Foster on 6 February 2019 in News

Row over ports after a no-deal Brexit leads to Transport Secretary being told he is no longer welcome in Calais

Chris Grayland - Danny Lawson/PA

Chris Grayling has been 'banned' from the port of Calais after showing "disrespect" to its boss over a no-deal Brexit.

Jean-Marc Puissesseau told the Telegraph that he did not want to see the Transport Secretary again after the UK government apparently made plans to divert sea freight from the French port without consulting him first.

The Calais chairman said: "Mr Grayling came to us in November and asked us if we would be ready. We told him 'yes', though we did not know as much as we know today. He did not tell us that he wanted to reduce the activity [at Calais].

"It is not fair at all, it is completely disrespectful. I don’t want to see him again."

The Transport Secretary - who last week said he served as "a lightning rod for the anti-Brexit brigade" - is instead planning to divert goods to the Belgian port of Ostend if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

But Puissesseau insisted a "traffic light" system set up by Calais officials would have been able to come with the extra border checks required if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

"I have heard he is ‘failing Grayling'... He will have to have a declaration if he comes to Calais," the port chief told the Telegraph. "He will have to go through the orange lane."

Grayling has previously come under fire for awarding a £14m Department for Transport no-deal contract to Seaborne Freight, a firm that has never run a channel crossing did not have any ferries at the time it was handed out.

The fresh spat with the Calais chairman was quickly seized on by critics of Brexit.

Labour's Virendra Sharma, speaking for the Best for Britain campaign, said: "Surely this is peak Chris Grayling - only this time he's gone international.

"All he needs to do now is release a statement blaming everyone else and his predictable path of chaos will be complete."

Fellow Labour MP Ian Murray of the People's Vote campaign for a second referendum added: "We should probably ban Chris Grayling from all transport hubs.

"The Government's Brexit fiasco gets worse and worse."

Speaking to Holyrood's sister magazine the House last week, Grayling said a string of personal attacks on his competence were down to his pro-Brexit credentials.

"A lot of people out there want to frustrate the democratic will of the British people who voted to leave the EU and because I’m a prominent Brexiteer in the Cabinet who backs the Prime Minister’s deal I’m a lightning rod for the anti-Brexit brigade," he said.

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