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Matt Hancock takes the flak as Chris Grayling ‘ordered to hide’

‘Byword for hapless’: Chris Grayling PICTURE: PA

LABOUR has accused the government of using health secretary Matt Hancock as ‘a human shield’ to protect transport secretary Chris Grayling.

Mr Hancock was sent to answer an urgent question in the Commons over the £33million payment to Eurotunnel to settle a legal action over the award of Brexit contracts to ferry firms, including one with no ships.

Calling Mr Grayling ‘an international embarrassment’ who should be sacked, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald, said his ‘incompetence has reached the point that he’s been ordered into hiding’.

‘Human shield’: Matt Hancock PICTURE: PA

Eurotunnel, which operates the Channel Tunnel, last week decided not to challenge the Department for Transport’s decision to award deals worth £108million to Seaborne Freight, DFDS and Brittany Ferries for extra crossings in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Grayling’s controversies were detailed in a New York Times article which questioned how he survives. It called him ‘a byword for haplessness in a golden age of political blundering in Britain’.

No.10 said the Eurotunnel settlement was a cross-government decision as freight capacity included the ongoing supply of medical and veterinary supplies. A spokesman added: ‘It’s entirely appropriate for the health secretary to answer the question.’

Meanwhile, attorney general Geoffrey Cox and Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay are in Brussels today to continue efforts to secure legally binding changes to the backstop over the Irish border.