Jacob Ress-Mogg says people should go on holiday to Portugal to avoid queues at Dover
Jacob Rees-Mogg has said people should go on holiday to Portugal if they want to avoid huge queues at Dover.
The Brexit opportunities minister insisted the UK's departure from the EU has nothing to do with the traffic chaos facing holidaymakers trying to cross the Channel - pointing to Portugal's use of e-gates for British travellers.
He blamed the gridlocks on the French for "not getting enough people to man the extra booths" that have been put in by the Port of Dover.
He told reporters: "If the French decide not to provide the immigration officers that are needed, then there will be queues. But this was a decision of the French.
"I mean, it's worth noting that the Portuguese have allowed the British to use e-gates to get into Portugal. So it may be that people will find it's easier to go on holiday in Portugal."
He added that Portugal was our oldest ally "so we should always be very friendly towards the Portuguese".
The comments come after the AA issued its first ever "amber" traffic warning ahead of time, saying this weekend will be "extremely busy" - with all eyes on Dover and Folkestone following getaway chaos since the start of the summer holidays.
Holidaymakers trying to cross the Channel have faced severe delays due to gridlocked traffic in recent weeks, with people stuck in jams for several hours.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who Mr Rees-Mogg is backing in the Tory leadership race, has also blamed the French for the delays.
But French authorities have hit back at the claims, saying the chaos at the ports is down to increased passport checks after Brexit.
Port of Dover is 'too small'
French MP for Calais Pierre-Henri Dumont told Sky News last week: "The Port of Dover is too small for this amount of people.
"Two years ago the Tory British government decided not to give money to the Port of Dover to increase the number of kiosks there for French police.
"Because of Brexit we need to have more checks on passports, so this is what your future will look like for years to come if you take no action."
Folkestone now 'hotspot of holiday hell'
Bumper-to-bumper traffic in Dover as UK and France argue over who is to blame
There were already jams in Dover on Thursday morning, with long queues and gridlocked traffic at the port.
The port expects to welcome around 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday.
People planning on using the Port of Dover are advised to leave extra time for journeys and ensure they have enough food and water.
Earlier in July, the port told passengers they should expect average wait times of 60-90 minutes at French border control during peak periods because UK tourists are "subject to enhanced checks" due to Brexit.
Anneliese Dodds, Labour Party chair, said the government had failed "to get a grip" on the problem, labelling it "chaos".