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News | Published February 13 2019

PMQs summary (Wed 13th Feb, 2019)

After a two-week interval, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn resumed their positions on the front benches for PMQs, battling this time over the government's attempt to ensure medicines reach the UK in the event of a no-deal scenario. This comes after transport minister Chris Grayling had to put an end to a £13.8 million contract with Seaborne, a ferry freight service.

The basic claim is that Chris Grayling contracted out a ferrying freight service which was not yet in full operation and therefore should not have been trusted for so vital a task as shipping medicinal products to the UK.

Corbyn picked up on this point and, for the majority of his speaking time, asked the prime minister to provide the House with an adequate explanation of, what he deemed to be, low contracting standards on behalf of the government.

May's retort was that no-deal eventuality planning was conducted in due accordance with legal and governmental standards, under the appropriate supervision of legal, official and professional experts, as well as a third party assessor.

Dissatisfied with this answer, Corbyn responded that advisers were presented only with "face value" assessments and that Grayling was told that the contract was "high risk". The government, he said, had not paid "due diligence".

The scrapping of the contract also incurred a consultancy fee of £800,000, a point that Corbyn also picked up on.

Despite this series of attacks from the Labour front bench, May robustly defended Grayling's record as transport minister, pointing out that under his leadership, the ministry executed the largest railway investment scheme in the UK since the Victorian period, and that his spending was greater than that of previous Labour governments by an average of 20 per cent per year.

The remainder of today's PMQs can be viewed on our Twitter thread.

Authored by

Thomas Wilson
Political Editor
@theparlreview
February 13 2019

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