Mr Grayling (inset) awarded contracts worth a total of more than £100 million to three firms – Brittany Ferries, DFDS and Seaborne Freight – to run extra services from ports 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 National Audit Office estimated in February that the maximum cost of compensation to ferry operators if contracts were terminated would be £56.6 million, but a Whitehall source said the actual figure was expected to be around 10 per cent lower. Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald said: ‘Chris Grayling and the ferry contracts will for evermore be a case study in ministerial incompetence.’

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