Dover set for more chaos as ‘critical incident’ is declared
British holidaymakers should expect more delays at the British port of Dover this weekend after a fierce Anglo-French row erupted over the handling of post-Brexit border controls on the English Channel.
The port declared a ‘critical incident’ on Friday after French border police provided what Dover said was a ‘woefully insufficient’ number of passport control officers, leading some families to wait five and six hours as they tried to escape for summer vacation.
Dover has warned passengers heading to the port to stock up on ‘water, food and supplies’ and to expect continued congestion as it works to eliminate queues caused by ‘a insufficient capacity at the French border”. Less than half of the port’s nine passport booths were occupied early Friday morning, which impacted the rest of the day.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is campaigning to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister, called the situation “appalling” and called on France to increase its capacity. “This horrible situation should have been entirely avoidable and is unacceptable,” she said.
The warning issued by the Port Authority was echoed by ferry operator P&O at the start of the summer holiday season, with thousands of families traveling across Europe this week after the school year ended. The Kent Ferry is the most popular sea route to France and many other parts of mainland Europe.
Dover issued a furious statement on Friday morning, saying it was “deeply frustrated” with the means committed by the French Border Police (PAF).
Doug Bannister, CEO of Dover Port, said he had meticulously planned such a busy day and was “deeply regrettable” that the PAF had not provided the number of officers requested. Traffic flows improved during the day as more French personnel entered service, he added, but “we still have quite a backlog to deal with”.
Dover’s complaint about the lack of French border personnel was matched by Calais, who said a shortage of British border force personnel regularly caused unnecessarily long waits on the French side.
Jean-Marc Puissesseau, chief executive of the port of Boulogne-Calais, said he had warned of chronic staff shortages at UK borders for ‘several months’, with cars and buses often waiting 90 minutes to be processed en route to the UK.
“There are not enough British police officers on [the] Calais side,” he said. “I’ve asked UK BF for reinforcements – we need 50% more people to keep the port running smoothly.”
Britain’s Home Office, which runs the Border Force, declined to comment on Puissesseau’s claims.
Britain’s railways will also face more disruption next week, after the RMT union said 40,000 workers would quit on Wednesday after talks with Network Rail and 14 rail companies broke down.
The network came to a virtual standstill across much of the country last month when the RMT staged a wave of back-to-back strikes over wages, conditions and possible job losses. Only about a fifth of the services were able to operate even on the busiest lines.
“Network Rail has made no improvements to its previous offering and the rail companies have offered us nothing new,” said Mick Lynch, RMT’s general secretary.
In a separate but additional sign of strained EU-UK relations, the European Commission has said it is expanding legal proceedings against Britain in the dispute over post-Brexit trade deals for Ireland. North.
Announce measures To enforce elements of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, Brussels said it was acting because of “the UK’s reluctance to engage in meaningful discussion”.
The commission said it suspended the proceedings a year ago in a spirit of cooperation, but restarted them because the UK government’s plan to pass legislation that would unilaterally tear up the protocol was “directly against of this spirit”.
The UK government said the commission’s decision was “disappointing”.
Additional reporting by Sam Fleming in Brussels