‘Blame Brexit not the French for delays,’ says Calais MP

·2-min read
Tailbacks approaching Dover last week. But who is to blame depends on who is asked.   (PA)
Tailbacks approaching Dover last week. But who is to blame depends on who is asked. (PA)

The French MP for Calais has blamed Brexit for the border problems which have seen holidaymakers stuck in queues of more than 20 hours.

Pierre-Henri Dumont, National Assembly member for the centre-right opposition party Les Républicains, has said British government excuses were “silly”.

He tweeted: “No need to blame French authorities for the traffic jams in #Dover: that’s an aftermath of #Brexit. We have to run more [frequent] and longer checks.

“The British government rejected [a] few months ago a proposal to double the number of passport booths given to the French police in Dover.”

Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously said France has understaffed the border and refused to relax EU red tape around checks. The UK government has also provided a statement to say that French authorities did not provide an adequate number of border officials on Friday.

The demand for travel to the continent has already reached its highest level post-2019 and this weekend is set to be the busiest yet as families plan a summer holiday getaway.

Mr Dumont has said in interviews that there is not a shortage of French border staff and that extra checks that need to be completed as a result of Brexit have sent the ease of the travel process back by 30 years.

He told The Times: “There is a race to be the next prime minister and everyone is trying to say it is somebody's fault but this is clearly an aftermath of Brexit.

“They ran 24/7 but you had the same queues. That is the crystal clear proof that [British ministers] are lying. The excuses from the British government were silly because this will not change. It is the new reality.

“We need to co-operate more and more, but co-operation begins by not blaming someone else for your problems. France and the European Union did not ask for disruption. Those who asked were the British government.”

Although Britain has now left the union, travellers have always needed to show a passport upon entry to France as it has never been part of the Schengen Area of free travel.

A Government spokesperson said: “A shortage of French border control staff, along with a serious accident on the M20 and exceptionally high numbers of people travelling this weekend, led to roads in Kent becoming extremely busy.

“We have worked closely with French authorities who deployed more staff to the border which has significantly reduced congestion, especially around Dover, though congestion remains challenging around Folkestone.

“We will continue to work with the relevant authorities and operators to minimise disruption and provide on the ground support.

“While congestion in Kent is beginning to ease, we recommend that passengers check the latest advice from their operators before travelling and ensure they have enough water and food provisions with them.“

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