Mersey to Belfast ferry firm says no-deal Brexit is ‘worst possible scenario’

Swedish company Stena Line sails twice a day on most days from the Twelve Quays terminal in Birkenhead to Belfast and says no-deal is ‘almost impossible’ to plan for. Tony McDonough reports

Stena Lagan, Mersey
Stena Lagan departs the Mersey for Belfast. Picture by Tony McDonough


A no-deal Brexit would be the “worst possible scenario”, the company that operates the Birkenhead to Belfast ferry route has said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is determined the UK will leave the EU on October 31 with or without a deal and, with the question over how to solve the issue of the Irish border seemingly without an answer, no-deal is looking increasingly unlikely.

Brexit Minister Michael Gove visited Holyhead ferry terminal in North Wales at the end of last week to see what preparations the port was making for Brexit and said, confidently, that the UK’s ports were well prepared.

READ MORE: Mersey Maritime CEO calls for an end to Brexit ‘scaremongering’

But Stena Line, which has significant Irish Sea operations out of Holyhead, Britain’s second-biggest passenger port, was less confident about avoiding disruption, saying a no-deal Brexit was “almost impossible” to plan for.

Major presence

The company also has a major presence in the River Mersey sailing twice a day on most days from the Twelve Quays terminal in Birkenhead to Belfast and back again with its Stena Mersey and Stena Lagan vessels.

Speaking to the North Wales Daily Post, Stena’s chief people and communications officer and Brexit spokesperson, Ian Hampton, said: “Like many other businesses, we have voiced our concerns about the high level of uncertainty that has existed and continues to exist within these Brexit negotiations.

“From a business and trade perspective, we have consistently stated that we are anxious about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit scenario. A no-deal scenario will have a negative impact and disrupt trade flows with a high potential for significant delays and congestion in and around ports, the impact of which could likely lead to increased operational costs.

“This lack of clarity has made it almost impossible to plan or prepare our business.  Regulatory framework, customs import and export requirements etc, need to be defined for the whole supply chain, including us, to make necessary preparations.”

Stena Mersey
Stena Mersey, arriving in the Mersey from Belfast. Picture by HowardLiverpool


Trade deal

Mr Hampton said the Swedish ferry firm, which has operations across Europe, was strongly urging the UK Government to make striking a trade deal with the EU its top priority. He added: “Leaving with no-deal and no trade agreement is the worst of all possible scenarios. 

“If there’s a trade agreement in place then this could well ease some of the fiscal and business concerns currently circulating and crucially, it will help keep goods flowing. We will continue to operate our timetables as published and do not envisage the need to adjust capacity.

Like any business, we will monitor trends and growth and if demand for our services changes, we will evolve our business model accordingly.”

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