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Seeing Red: A Brexit balls up

Seeing Red is my regular column in The Isle of Thanet News. This opinion piece was first published on March 5 2019.

You might have noticed that Ramsgate was at the centre of a media scrum recently with the news of Chris Grayling’s Brexit balls up. It’s now well known that ferry company Seaborne Freight, was given a contract worth £14m, even though it had no ships, had no track record and ‘lifted’ its terms and conditions from a ‘pizza’ shop.

For those of us looking on at this, quite apart from the fact it’s so ridiculous ‘you couldn’t make it up,’ it worryingly underlines the perfect storm that Brexit has become for communities like ours. However you voted, I don’t imagine anyone voted for chaos. This is less ‘taking back control’ and more about an open cheque book.

Here we are weeks away from Brexit, with no adequate plans in place, no backstop agreed, too few Government staff to negotiate the exit terms, and our key elected Minister seemingly playing fast and loose with accountability.

Labour’s Andy McDonald says the transport secretary is an “embarrassment” as another Tory minister answered questions on Chris Graylings behalf, to explain away the latest Grayling gaff on Brexit, this time resulting in a £33m payout to Eurotunnel.

Throughout this process, I have complained that whilst Ramsgate has become awash with Government funding, £13.8m to Seaborne Freight, and the handsome Department of Transport contract for a lorry park at Manston, none of the millions currently being syphoned through Thanet will find their way into our local economy.

We shouldn’t take our eye off the ball.

Thanet needs genuine regeneration and that must be funded by central Government. In every measure Thanet is an economically disadvantaged area. Thanet needs a clear, coherent and funded long term plan. One that provides a future for our young people. Jobs, education and housing all need addressing urgently.

Meanwhile I’m aghast that someone such as Grayling, with so little talent, has been promoted so far beyond his ability.

This article was first published on 5th March 2019 in The Isle of Thanet News.