Chris Grayling, MP for Epsom and Ewell, has accused the Labour Party of “hating business” after criticisms over the £13.8m Government contract awarded to Seaborne Freight in the case of a no deal Brexit scenario.

Standing at the despatch box in the House of Commons today (January 8), transport secretary Grayling said: “There seems to be a visceral hatred of small business on the other side of the house, a visceral belief the government should not be willing to contract with small business.

“They hate business. This new Labour Party is very different from the one 10 years ago. They simply hate business”.

The MP for Epsom and Ewell also sought to reassure his colleagues in the House of Commons, adding: “This Government has let a contract for which we will pay no money until and unless ferries are running, that is responsible stewardship of public money.”

Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald, who secured the urgent question, criticised the contract, telling MPs Seaborne Freight has "no money, no ships, no track record, no employees [...] one telephone line, and no working website".

The Labour MP added: “This is a shoddy and tawdry affair and the Secretary of State is making a complete mess of it.

"When will he realise that this country cannot continue to suffer the consequences of his gross incompetence, why is this calamitous Secretary of State still in post?"