UK Strikes Ferry Deals to Ensure Supply of Medicines after Brexit
Britain said on Friday it had signed deals worth 86.6 million pounds ($109.50 million) with shipping firms to ensure the supply of vital medicines in the event of border chaos after the country leaves the European Union.
The country's transport ministry said the six-month contracts meant that Brittany Ferries, DFDS, P&O and Stena Line would be ready to deliver capacity equivalent to thousands of lorries each week from the Oct. 31 deadline for Brexit.
The firms would operate on routes which are less likely to face border disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants to strike a transition deal with the EU but he has also pledged to take the country out of the bloc without one if needed.
In February, the government scrapped a contract it signed with a company to provide extra ferries in the event of a no-deal Brexit, even though the company did not have any ships.
The new contracts provide for routes from eight ports in England: Teesport, Hull, Killingholme, Felixstowe, Harwich, Tilbury, Portsmouth and Poole.
The framework of the contracts will remain in place for the next four years in case further help is needed.
A pharmaceutical industry group said the announcement would help companies finalise their plans for a no-deal Brexit.
"This capacity is an important part of our members' preparations," Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said.
"Stockpiles are also in place, and some companies have already sourced their own alternative ferry routes."
($1 = 0.7909 pounds)
(Reporting by Kate Holton Writing by William Schomberg)