AN SNP MP taunted the UK Government yesterday over the latest twist in the controversy about the awarding of a £14 million no-deal Brexit ferry contract to a firm with no ships.

Transport spokesman Drew Hendry quizzed UK Business Secretary Greg Clark in the Commons over claims a business owned by one of Seaborne Freight’s directors went into liquidation owing Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) nearly £600,000.

Hendry asked during business questions whether a precedent had been set for UK businesses by awarding a contract to a company with no ships, “negative assets of nearly £400,000” and “terms and conditions copied from a takeaway”.

He said: “Will all UK businesses see such largesse from the Government over procurement contracts? One of the directors of Seaborne ran a company which went into liquidation owing HMRC nearly £600,000 using EBT [Employee Benefit Trust] tax avoidance schemes.

“According to the director, the Government didn’t even consider the money owed to HMRC as relevant – is that a sign of a government out of control on Brexit?”

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Clark answered that Seaborne would not need to be paid if a no-deal Brexit was avoided, as no services would be required.

He said it was “prudent and responsible” for the Government to prepare contingency plans for a no-deal exit but hoped opposition MPs would “take the opportunity to obviate the need for those contingencies”.

He added: “He [Hendry], I hope, would agree that every Government department should make preparations against the avoidable contingency of no deal. The procurement processes the Department for Transport went for, the secretary of state will describe.

“Of course, it’s fair to observe that not a penny of Government money has been paid to this company and will only be paid, as I understand it, on receipt of services provided.”