The possibilities for business growth arising from a no deal Brexit are already manifesting after a ferry company began dredging Ramsgate harbour to take over thousands of lorry shipments from Dover to Europe.
Dredging began in the harbour waters of Ramsgate, Kent, early Thursday morning, paid for by Seaborne Freight, the company that was awarded a £13.8 million contract to operate a freight transport service from Ramsgate to the coastal Belgian city of Ostend 65 miles away.
To offset transport delays in the event of a no deal Brexit, the plan is to divert more than 3,000 lorries a day from Dover to Ramsgate with 24 vessel services anticipated a day.
There have been no cross-channel services from Ramsgate since 2013 following the collapse of then-operator TransEuropa and would be a boon for the Kent port which, like other coastal towns, have been suffering from economic decline.
While the Dutch suction dredger Jetsed was working to widen and deepen the harbour channel, BBC World at One Keith Doyle spoke to locals about the planned expansion on Friday, with one Ramsgate man saying, “I work down here in the harbour and it’s been not so much derelict but not used a great amount.
“It’ll bring business to the local community. It’ll be a good thing.”
Labelled a “second Dover,” the government has allotted £100 million to three ferry companies to complete the preparations, with Thanet District Council having also set aside £26 million for the project, according to The Telegraph.
These plans had been floated by Thanet District Council in November; however, the Government did not act upon them until after Christmas, with the prospect of a no deal Brexit increasing ahead of a crunch House of Commons vote next week.
A spokesman for the district said, “The council has been keen to re-establish a ferry service since before the vote to leave the EU.
“We recognise that Ramsgate could play a role in supporting post-Brexit resilience by offering an alternative route for some cross-Channel traffic, to ensure at least some movement of goods should there be significant delays in Dover.
“This would be especially beneficial to the ‘Just in Time’ production processes and logistics, for example the chilled food sector.”
The preparations are likely not just to please local businesses in Ramsgate, but Belgium as well, whose port towns could benefit from a no deal Brexit by taking shipping that would otherwise have travelled to Calais in France.
Breitbart London reported in December that the governments of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands have already made preparations for Britain leaving the EU without a deal. Belgium and the Netherlands have been prepping their own ports with extra staff while Europe’s biggest port Rotterdam is said to be sizing up Calais to take away business.
However the Remainstream Media and political establishment have attacked transport secretary Chris Grayling’s decision to award the contract to new business Seaborne Freight which currently does not own vessels and has not run a freight crossing before — although the new company’s founders are industry professionals.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday, the minister said, “I make no apologies for supporting a new British business.
“The reality is, it’s a tightly drawn up contract that requires them to deliver, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with government supporting small business.
“It’s a new start up business. Government supporting new British business — there’s nothing wrong with that.”
The government is also set to rehearse Operation Brock next week which involves the conversion of disused Thanet airport Manston, closed in 2014, to turn it into a lorry park to maintain traffic flow on the M20.
(Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)