Brexit blamed for Dover traffic jam on second day of travel chaos

Long queues formed at Dover and a major incident was declared as a second day of travel chaos consumed the key port amid additional post-Brexit checks.

The disruption came as most schools in England and Wales split for the summer holidays, marking the start of one of the busiest times for overseas travel.

Passengers had to queue for hours and were warned to expect another “very busy day” in Dover.

Kent officials have declared a major traffic incident as P&O Ferries told travelers to allow at least three to four hours to clear security checks and French border checks.

About 10,000 cars are expected to pass through the port on Saturday, up 1,500 from Friday. Around 3,000 trucks are also said to be waiting to cross the English Channel.

Doug Bannister, the port’s general manager, said there could be delays of five to six hours. “He could be. We were expecting today to be a busier day than yesterday,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Saturday.

“We are operating in a post-Brexit environment which means passports have to be checked, they have to be stamped and indeed the competent people who run the booths – Border Police – are doing their job which they need to do now.”

French politician Pierre-Henri Dumont, Republican MP for Calais, has blamed the UK’s exit from the EU as causing the chaos, telling BBC News it was “a a consequence of Brexit” and that more checks were needed.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said France was to blame for “entirely avoidable” delays, calling on authorities there to “build capacity at the border to limit any further disruption to British tourists and to ensure that this appalling situation is avoided in the future”. .

But Dumont said there was “no need to blame the French authorities for the traffic jams in Dover”.

“We need to carry out more and longer checks”, he tweeted.

Dumont also accused London of “rejecting [a] a few months ago a proposal to double the number of passport counters” for the French police in Dover.

No need to blame the French authorities for the traffic jams #Dover: it is a sequel to #Brexit. We have to carry out longer and longer checks.

The British government rejected a proposal a few months ago to double the number of passport booths allocated to the French police in Dover.

— Pierre-Henri Dumont (@phdumont) July 23, 2022

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No need to blame the French authorities for the traffic jams #Dover: it is a sequel to #Brexit. We have to carry out longer and longer checks.

The British government rejected a proposal a few months ago to double the number of passport booths allocated to the French police in Dover.

— Pierre-Henri Dumont (@phdumont) July 23, 2022

Post-Brexit travel rules mean that British nationals can stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Until a fully automated border system is operational, passport stamps are now required at most entry and exit points, significantly increasing processing times.

The UK Foreign Office advises travelers to mainland Europe to have their passports stamped, noting that if “the relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, a border official may assume that you have passed your visa-free limit”.

In December 2020, the UK Cabinet Office reportedly rejected a £33million proposal to double the French government’s passport control capacity at Dover after the port applied for funding to help pay for additional border expenses related to Brexit.

The funding would have been used to double the number of French Border Police passport booths ahead of tougher requirements – including stamps in passports from January 1, 2021 – the Financial Times (£) reported.

ITV News reported on Wednesday that the Port of Dover was only then “expanding its border capacity to avoid queues” after an agreement with French border forces to operate 50% of passenger control booths. extra passports.

The port said the additional cabins would be “installed before the summer getaway weekend” July 22-24, but conceded that their operation would depend on “French resource levels, and we know that resources in Europe… are limited”.

A Nord-Pas-de-Calais regional government official said in a statement Friday evening that French authorities had “of course anticipated the increase in traffic” and put in place “an appropriate level of staffing”.

He said a ‘technical incident’ at the Channel Tunnel meant French border police were not at full operational capacity in Dover until 8.45am on Friday, an hour later than scheduled, a date at which long delays had accumulated.

The British authorities rejected this explanation.

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he was “working closely” with France’s transport minister “to minimize further disruption so people can get away quickly”.

But Labour’s Nick Thomas-Symonds accused the government of being “absent”, telling Times Radio that those responsible must “take this situation in hand”.


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