June 26, 2019 / 4:28 PM / 3 months ago

UK readies emergency transport to bring in supplies in no-deal Brexit

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington during a press conference in London, Britain May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government is drawing up plans to charter planes and ferries to ensure vital supplies such as medicines can be brought into the country if the government fails to secure a trade deal before leaving the European Union.

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington announced on Tuesday that the Department for Transport is leading a cross-government approach to ensure ministries have the capability to bring in supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Just four months before the United Kingdom is due to leave the world’s largest bloc, the risk of a no-deal Brexit is rising, with the leading candidate to be the next prime minister Boris Johnson saying he was willing to leave without a deal.

“Guaranteeing the supply of critical ‘category 1’ goods, including medicines, medical products, veterinary medicines and chemicals remains an essential element of the government’s No Deal contingency planning,” Lidington said in a statement.

“The government is therefore undertaking steps to secure freight capacity for suppliers of these goods in a No-Deal scenario.”

Britain’s transport ministry faced ridicule earlier this year after stacking up a £50 million loss for cancelling contracts to charter extra ferries to bring in essential supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The decision to award the contracts has been a major political embarrassment after it emerged the government handed out a 14 million pound contract for extra ferries to a company that owned no ferries and published terms and conditions on its website that appeared to be for a takeaway food business.

Reporting By Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison

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