Dover: GB News hosts blame French resentment for port gridlock
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Traffic at the port is “flowing normally” after days of long queues created travel chaos for holidaymakers and lorry drivers heading for the continent. Extra post-Brexit border checks and French authorities’ understaffing of checkpoints in Dover have been blamed for the hold-ups.
It comes after Britain’s main gateway into Europe declared a critical incident on Friday over long delays.
One driver who reportedly used a route around the port on Saturday described “miles and miles of queuing lorries”.
Former Scotland Yard detective David Videcette took to Twitter to share his views along with a video of a stretch of road filled with lorries queued up bumper to bumper.
He said on Saturday morning: “Had to drive this stretch of road earlier – there’s still miles and miles of queuing lorries. It was interesting to note most of them were left-hand drive, so not UK based.
“The French not manning their border posts is hurting businesses all over Europe, not just UK holidaymakers.”
Scenes of gridlocked roads witnessed on Friday were repeated yesterday as thousands of travellers seethed in lengthy queues. Some lorry drivers reported waits of more than 18 hours.
The chaos came during one of the busiest periods for foreign travel from the UK as a majority of schools in England and Wales have broke up for the summer.
Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss blamed disruption at the Port of Dover on the French authorities when asked if Brexit was the reason for the transport chaos.
She said at a campaign event in Kent: “This is a situation that has been caused by a lack of resources at the border.
“And that is what the French authorities need to address and that is what I am being very clear with them about.”
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office later tweeted a statement from Ms Truss, saying she had spoken to her French counterpart, Catherine Colonna.
She said: “I was clear the French authorities have not put enough people on the border and we need to see action from then to resolve the terrible situation which travellers, including families, are facing.”
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The message came after a tweet from Ms Colonna, who stated the pair had a “good talk”.
Ms Colonna added: “We welcomed the cooperation between our competent technical services to reduce the delays. Need also to improve the facilities of the port of Dover.”
French MP Pierre-Henri Dumont, who represents Calais, blamed the delays on the UK’s exit from the EU, telling BBC News it was “an aftermath of Brexit” with more checks needed.
He claimed the Dover port is “too small” with too few kiosks due to lack of space.
Passengers embarking on cross-Channel sailings from Dover must pass through French border checks before they can board a ferry.
Port authorities said they were relieved French border staff had fully mobilised at French border controls in Dover.
The port’s Chief Executive Doug Bannister said it was immensely frustrating to be let down by poor resourcing at the French border.
He warned there will be increased transaction times at the border due to extra checks needed.
He later said he welcomed the commitment shown by both French and UK authorities to resolve the issue, adding the required staffing levels must be maintained for the rest of the summer.
Natalie Chapman of haulier group Logistics UK echoed concerns about French staff numbers and Brexit changes.
She said: “As I say, the cause was that lack of resource yesterday but also, of course, it takes a lot longer to process through traffic than it used to.
“You used to, prior to Brexit, just wave your passport and they may or may not be looked at but now every one is checked and stamped.”
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