Turning a Blind Eye

As my little festive sojourn in Wales draws to a close, there’s no sign of the Brexit Pantomime season doing likewise. The latest episode of this tragicomedy saw Transport Secretary Chris Grayling dishing out £14 million of taxpayers’ money to a ‘company’ called Seaborne Freight to operate ferries between Ramsgate and Ostend when, in less than 90 days, the UK leaves the EU.

As his name suggests, there’s something very fishy about Grayling’s decision to hand out a lucrative contract, without any proper procurement process, to a company that has only existed for a few months, has never operated a ferry, has no trained staff and, above all, has no ships!

Is this lawful? I doubt it. Is it ethical? Certainly not. Will Grayling get away with it? Almost certainly. Recent events have shown that illegality, fraud and corruption are all part of the job description for a Brexiter.

Perhaps Grayling is trying to channel Lord Nelson who, in legend anyway, at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, held a telescope to his blind eye when ordered to retreat, saying “I see no ships”. The difference here is of course that the ships can’t be seen because they don’t exist.

“I see no ships” is actually a misquote: what Nelson said was something like “I have a right to be blind sometimes. I really do not see the signal”. This event is not the origin of the phrase ‘to turn a blind eye’, either: the OED gives an example of its usage from 1698..

Anyway I think we can all see what the signal is in this case, a desperate government throwing public money down the drain without a shred of accountability. Get used to it. There will be a lot more of that in Brexit Britain. It’s what you voted for, isn’t it?

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6 Responses to “Turning a Blind Eye”

  1. A Grayling is a freshwater fish of no great culinary merit. Just saying…

  2. I checked the directors for this company to make sure they were not related to MPs.

    Rather different to the rules for University staff; at Manchester we could not collaborate or apply for funding with a company without a careful check on their finanicial record, trading status; and we could not accept any gift or meal or other benefit over £20. Everything had to be disclosed, even down to my members of the International Concertina Association and the Runrig Fanclub!

  3. After a little research, it seems a pretty common business model for these companies to not actually own the ships.

    That doesn’t make me any less dubious of any scheme Grayling is in charge of.

    • On the other hand, they appear to have copy/pasted their terms and conditions from a fast-food site.

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