County Councillor Karen Constantine: A Brexit balls up

Cllr Karen Constantine

You might have noticed that Ramsgate was at the centre of a media scrum recently with the news of Chris Grayling’s Brexit balls up. It’s now well known that ferry company Seaborne Freight, was given a contract worth £14m, even though it had no ships, had no track record and ‘lifted’ its terms and conditions from a ‘pizza’ shop.

For those of us looking on at this, quite apart from the fact it’s so ridiculous ‘you couldn’t make it up,’ it worryingly underlines the perfect storm that Brexit has become for communities like ours. However you voted, I don’t imagine anyone voted for chaos. This is less ‘taking back control’ and more about an open cheque book.

Here we are weeks away from Brexit, with no adequate plans in place, no backstop agreed, too few Government staff to negotiate the exit terms, and our key elected Minister seemingly playing fast and loose with accountability.

Labour’s Andy McDonald says the transport secretary is an “embarrassment” as another Tory minister answered questions on Chris Graylings behalf, to explain away the latest Grayling gaff on Brexit, this time resulting in a £33m payout to Eurotunnel.

Throughout this process, I have complained that whilst Ramsgate has become awash with Government funding, £13.8m to Seaborne Freight, and the handsome Department of Transport contract for a lorry park at Manston, none of the millions currently being syphoned through Thanet will find their way into our local economy.

We shouldn’t take our eye off the ball.

Thanet needs genuine regeneration and that must be funded by central Government. In every measure Thanet is an economically disadvantaged area. Thanet needs a clear, coherent and funded long term plan. One that provides a future for our young people. Jobs, education and housing all need addressing urgently.

Meanwhile I’m aghast that someone such as Grayling, with so little talent, has been promoted so far beyond his ability.


  1. What is the Labour Brexit plan ?
    Heads in the sand…??
    It’s very easy to be critical, but when they have no workable alternatives, that takes any credibility away from them…
    Of course “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” blows with the wind …Nothing constructive to offer..
    Anymore than KC and the Sunshine Band .

    • The Labour plan is endlessly repeated whenever Party spokespeople get a chance. But whatever they say, somebody still trots out the mantra about nobody knowing what the Labour Party stands for!

      Labour want a Customs Union with the EU which would enable trade to continue and would not put a hard border across Ireland when the British government promised not to have a hard border when negotiating the Belfast Peace Agreement. NOT something that we should mess with!
      A Customs Union would also mean that all the extra customs paperwork that will snarl up the ports if there were to be a “No Deal Brexit” would not be needed and trade could continue to flow as now.Hopefully even more smoothly.
      So car companies and other manufacturing enterprises could relax in the knowledge that there will not be hold-ups at Dover/Calais.

      Unfortunately, I really get the impression that the Conservatives are no longer posing as the friends of manufacturing industry. Their Brexit plans seem to just expect a further decline in Britain actually making and selling things. Instead , they have become the Party of City of London bankers and investors who spend their money all over the world and don’t have much interest in exactly which country they are based in as they are all as good as one another . They just need an office, computer and vaguely functioning Stock Exchange. Which might as well be in Frankfurt, Dublin or Paris. A funny kind of patriotism this Tory Brexit.

  2. Jeremy Corbyn, “o the oki oki coki, in out in out shake it all about” get rid of that cretin and you might stand a chance, and Abbot and Costello, too.

  3. It’s clearly to the advantage of people who want to stop Brexit to portray the process as a shambles and to make out that it’s all going to be a disaster. However, you’d have to be a complete imbecile to assume that behind the scenes, government has not been working hard on putting in place plans for all likely eventualities (i.e. either a deal or no deal). It’s equally obvious that nobody would want to advertise how they’ve been planning to cope with a no deal scenario whilst they are still hoping to strike a deal. Use your common sense. Theresa May’s “deal” is a bad deal and it’s dead in the water. It’s been dead since December. We are heading for no deal and everybody in government knows this. The Labour party has demonstrated itself unelectable. They have failed to come up with any credible alternative. Having another public vote would solve nothing. Looking into my crystal ball I see that we will be leaving on the 29th March with no deal. There will be some short-term disruption but it will be nowhere near as bad as the doom-mongers are claiming. Following a no deal exit we will see elected European politicians getting involved and negotiating properly (and quickly) to prevent damage to their own economies. Expect to see Tusk, Barnier and Juncker taking enforced retirement.

  4. I am very surprised by Karen Constanstine’s second to last comment, regarding Jobs for the Thanet Area, so can she tell us all why herself and the Labour Party are so against the reopening of Manston Airport, which would create more jobs for the young people of Thanet.

    • In addition to creating a handful of poorly paid low skilled jobs, a re-opened Manston Airport would inflict vast environmental damage and harm on the residents of Thanet in general, and Ramsgate and Hern Bay in particular.
      It most certainly is possible to create lots of jobs without the environmental disaster: look no further than the Royal Victoria Pavilion, for example.

  5. Colin, the SHP development will create more jobs than the RSP proposal. When the failed airport went bust last time there were less than 150 employed, mainly in lower paid part time roles. An automated cargo hub isn’t going to deliver a plethora of jobs. Ramsgates tourist, creative and retail economy are a far better option. There are also plenty of Tories against the Manston Cargo Hub, despite what our MPs tell you. This isn’t a party issue.

    • Hi Emmeline, if you believe that SHP is the right way to go, that is your view, so let’s look at the main proposal, at least another 4000 houses on the Manston site, that means, a minimum of 4000 extra polluting cars on Thanet roads, you cannot move around Thanet now, what jobs are you talking about? I wood rather have a few non polluting planes, than thousands of cars.

      • “A few non-polluting planes”? RSP’s plans say that they want 83,000 flights a year.

        Why don’t the people who don’t want thousands of extra cars on local roads start putting pressure on Thanet’s MPs and the current government to improve public transport? To improve it so much that most people need a car? But no, people don’t want extra cars in Thanet, they don’t want extra houses- they want a damn great cargo hub airport! Yes, that’s what the majority of Thanet residents want, or so we have all been told for years.

        But how on earth will a cargo hub airport manage to thrive without putting a large number of goods lorries on local roads every day- and I suppose every night?

        And why on earth don’t RSP want to buy an airfield which is already for sale, instead of trying to acquire a site whose owners have bought it legally and have very different plans for it?

      • Oh dear. We get the houses anyway, along with the associated environmental burdens.
        We don’t need to have the pollution and noise of an airport, too.
        Not that it’s likely to happen. The Azimuth report upon which RSP largely bases its application is fundamentally flawed. There is no unmet freight demand in the SE; there is no need for an airport at Manston.

  6. Whatever and whoever is in charge won’t make a lot of difference now this Country has been ran into the ground with fake news and fake austerity measures on those who cannot afford it, then deny help leaving vulnerable and disabled people on the streets and relying on foodbanks to survive while they swan about with no adverse affects at all. The system in this country is all wrong, you have third world deprivation against high society greedy tax-avoiders. What is going on. Let’s leave the EU and those power hungry maniacs to fight among themselves. We don’t need a bad deal with the EU locked into forever. WTO is the way to go for a return to a great United Kingdom.

    • “Great” United Kingdom?
      Means what?
      Gun boats up the Euphrates? Send the Viceroy back to the Punjab? Export our criminals to the colonies?
      Get real! We’re in the 21st, not the 18th century. One way to make our country “great” again would be to stop flogging off our industry and infrastructure to otger countries.

  7. It would be far far better to stay in the EU and be an active member of it, than to be a sprat swimming alone in the ocean where the sharks are some very dodgy countries indeed. How could we, now, regain the kind of global power we used to have?

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