Grayling dismisses calls to quit over £33m payout to Eurotunnel

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has brushed aside calls for his resignation over a controversial £33 million payout to Eurotunnel to settle a legal action in relation to the Government’s no-deal Brexit preparations.

Mr Grayling faced renewed demands for his resignation after he failed to appear in the Commons on Monday to answer an urgent question on the settlement, leaving it instead to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

But arriving for the weekly meeting of the Cabinet, he told reporters the decision had been taken “collectively” by ministers to ensure the continued supply of drugs into the UK in the event of no-deal.

He made clear that he had no intention of bowing to opposition demands for him to go.

“I will carry on serving the Prime Minister as long as she wants me to,” he said.

Eurotunnel brought the legal action after the Government awarded contracts to three ferry companies – one of which had no ships – to transport essential medical supplies from the EU if Britain leaves without a deal in place.

Mr Grayling said the case was “regrettable” but that the Government had had to act to ensure the NHS had the supplies it needed.

“The decision that we took last week was taken by the Department of Health to protect drugs supplies to the UK in a no-deal in the same way as these contracts were let in the first place, after a discussion and a decision by a Cabinet committee because we had to prepare for all eventualities,” he said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock answered MPs’ questions after Chris Grayling refused to appear (House of Commons/PA)

“We are still working for a deal, we don’t want to leave without a deal, but we have to be ready for all eventualities.

“This was a sensible part of contingency planning to make sure that we had all resources that we needed, all the medical supplies that we needed, for the NHS. That is why the Cabinet took the decision that it did.

“That is why we collectively last week decided, however regrettable the Eurotunnel court action was, that we had to take a decision to protect the interests of the country in the circumstances of a no-deal Brexit. And that is the right thing to do.”

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