Truss urges France to act over ‘entirely avoidable’ port gridlock
Liz Truss has called on France to act over “entirely avoidable” delays at the border as holidaymakers and lorry drivers face another day of gridlocked roads around Dover. The foreign secretary said the delays and queues were “unacceptable”, blaming a lack of staffing by the French at the border – however a French politician blamed Brexit for the chaos. It comes after travellers got stuck in queues for up to six hours in the Port of Dover on Friday at the start of the summer school holidays – which led to the port declaring a “critical incident”.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “As the schools closed their doors fully yesterday, Saturday could prove busier still this weekend. “Drivers should continue to expect disruption and delays on major holiday routes to the south-west, eastern coast and ports of Dover and Folkestone. “While many have decided to go at the start of the summer holidays, between now and the beginning of September when schools return, each Friday and Saturday will be busy on our roads because these are the main switchover days for holiday lets.”
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Why Brexit made Dover gridlock inevitable
Pure Brexit took effect at 11pm, British time, on 31 December 2020.
So why should the decision to leave the European Union suddenly be afflicting travellers who want to return to the EU, albeit temporarily on holiday? Because this is the first real peak weekend for cross-Channel travellers from Dover since the Brexit transition phase ended. The Channel crunch would have happened a year ago, were it not for the bizarre “amber plus” decision.
This time last July the normal flood of British holidaymakers heading across to France reduced to a trickle as a result of the UK government’s invention of a new mandatory quarantine category for people returning back across the Channel. Travellers from “amber” nations on the “traffic light” scale, including France, Spain and most of our other European favourites, were set to go quarantine-free as the main school holidays began for families in England and Wales. But at 4am on 19 July 2021, France was placed in a newly created and short-lived category that required 10 days of self-isolation.
Days before what would have been the peak weekend for departures, hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers tore up their plans to head across the Channel. Simon Calder reports.
Exclusive: From ‘Amber Plus’ to ‘Critical Incident’: the leavers’ lesson that was bound to happen Joe Middleton23 July 2022 07:57
Truss calls on France to act over ‘entirely avoidable’ delays at Dover
Liz Truss has called on France to act over “entirely avoidable” delays at the border as holidaymakers and lorry drivers face another day of gridlocked roads around Dover.
The foreign secretary said the delays and queues were “unacceptable”, blaming a lack of staffing by the French at the border. But a French politician blamed Brexit for the chaos. Pierre-Henri Dumont, Republican MP for Calais, said the problems at the Kent port would reoccur, telling BBC News: “This is an aftermath of Brexit.
We have to run more checks than before.” A “critical incident” was declared by the port due to the queues, with tourists urged to consider staying away, and warnings that Saturday may be just as bad. In a statement, Tory leadership hopeful Ms Truss said: “This awful situation should have been entirely avoidable and is unacceptable.
“We need action from France to build up capacity at the border to limit any further disruption for British tourists and to ensure this appalling situation is avoided in future. “We will be working with the French authorities to find a solution.” The chief executive of the Port of Dover said being “let down” by poor resourcing at the French border was “immensely frustrating”.
Joe Middleton23 July 2022 07:29
How long should travellers allow to clear Dover port security?
Ferry operator P&O Ferries has advised passengers to allow at least five hours to clear the approach roads and security checks. The ferry company said on Friday evening it expects Saturday to be “just as busy”. The AA said its latest data showed other ports, such as Portsmouth and Newhaven ferry ports, were running reasonably smoothly.
The RAC said an estimated 18.8 million leisure trips are planned in the UK between Friday and Monday. Lamiat Sabin23 July 2022 04:30
‘Now Brexit effects on cross-Channel travel are clearly seen’
Brexit made the gridlock at Dover port “inevitable,” writes travel correspondent Simon Calder. He points out that Friday – when the school holidays started – is the first real peak weekend for cross-Channel travellers since the Brexit transition phase ended right before the Covid pandemic.
“Which is why only now are we able to see clearly the results of the choice that we made in the 2016 EU referendum,” he says. You can read his article here in full:
Exclusive: From ‘Amber Plus’ to ‘Critical Incident’: the leavers’ lesson that was bound to happen Lamiat Sabin23 July 2022 03:30
Port of Dover gridlock – in pictures
Lamiat Sabin23 July 2022 02:30
Dover ‘expands border infrastructure’ in bid to ease chaos
The Port of Dover said it has put in place a range of temporary measures – including more booths for French border control officers and a refreshment stand for holidaymakers stuck in the traffic.
It says it hopes these improvements will help ease the travel chaos seen on Friday at the start of the school summer holidays, which is only expected to get worse over the weekend. The port tweeted: “To keep waiting times to a minimum, we’ve installed 50% more booths for use by French border control. “Internal traffic routes round the ports have been repositioned for improved vehicle flows.
“An expanded team of Passenger Champions will be on site to provide help and information. “Enhanced amenities such as toilets and a refreshment stand will be available ahead of border control.” Lamiat Sabin23 July 2022 01:30
Dover traffic not yet eased at Friday midnight – pictures
It appears that the motorway traffic in and around the Port of Dover had yet to ease up just minutes before midnight – if motorway camera images are anything to go by.
Images taken by the cameras show long queues of cars, on the M20 at junctions 10 and 11, on what has been one of the busiest travel days of the year.
It comes after travellers got stuck in queues for up to six hours in Dover on Friday at the start of the school summer holidays.
This led to the port declaring a “critical incident” while the British and French officials blamed each other for the chaos.
The gridlock on Saturday and Sunday could be worse, the port and motoring groups such as the AA have warned. Lamiat Sabin23 July 2022 00:30
How tomorrow’s papers are covering Port of Dover gridlock
Independent: Great summer getaway brought to a standstill Guardian: Holiday border chaos could spill into weekend
Express: Quelle surprise! French ruin our summer holidays i: Happy holidays.
Love, France. Financial Times: Row over post-Brexit border checks hit big holiday getaway Mirror: Hols chaos – summer getaway hell
Telegraph: Truss tells France to fix holiday travel chaos Daily Mail: Wish you weren’t here! Lamiat Sabin22 July 2022 23:30
‘French border officials must turn up for work’ – Dover MP
Natalie Elphicke, Tory MP for Dover, has called on French border officers to “turn up for work tomorrow” following the chaos at the Kent port today.
She said: “It is critical that French border officials turn up for work tomorrow at the Port of Dover and that the passport controls are working at full capacity. “Further significant delays are expected over the weekend.” It comes after the port and British government blamed France for not having enough border staff.
French authorities in turn blamed an “unforeseeable technical incident” in the Channel Tunnel – but Eurotunnel rejected this explanation. A statement by Georges-Francois Leclerc, the defence and security prefect of the Hauts-de-France region – where Calais is situated – said that British media reports that French border police did not provide enough staff “must be corrected”. He said that staffing was provided but more than one hour later than originally planned due to the “technical incident”.
Lamiat Sabin22 July 2022 22:30
Other Channel crossings are available amid Dover chaos
The problems faced by motorists seeking to leave Dover are not replicated at other Channel ports – where French border formalities take place at the destination, our travel correspondent Simon Calder writes. Brittany Ferries says it has some availability on services from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth this weekend. Paul Acheson, sales and marketing director for the French ferry firm said: “We feel for all holiday makers struggling with travel through Dover today, as well as our friends and colleagues at ferry companies operating on short-sea routes.
“Our message today is not that we want to profit from misfortune.
However, services are running smoothly through our ports and for passengers who are really stuck or if problems persist in Dover this weekend, Brittany Ferries may be in a position to help.”
Lamiat Sabin22 July 2022 21:30