The UK is to cancel all the contracts for ferry services to be provided in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
The country’s Department for Transport is to cancel the contracts at a cost to the department of around £50m (€58m), a source has said.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling awarded contracts worth a total of more than £100m (€116m) to three firms – Brittany Ferries, DFDS and Seaborne Freight – to run extra services from ports on England’s south coast including Plymouth, Poole and Portsmouth to ease pressure on the main Dover-Calais route.
After the expected March 29 date of EU withdrawal was delayed, first to April 12 and now October 31, the new services were not required.
The UK’s National Audit Office estimated in February that the maximum cost of compensation to ferry operators if contracts were terminated would be £56.6m (€65.6m), but a Whitehall source said the actual figure was expected to be around 10% lower.
Seaborne’s contract to provide sailings from Ramsgate was scrapped in February after an Irish company backing the deal pulled out.
The announcement that the remaining contracts are now to be torn up is likely to fuel speculation that the Government no longer believes a no-deal Brexit might happen.