Channel travel chaos down to French 'fury' over Brexit and Boris, says Jeremy Hunt

25 July 2022, 08:43

By Sophie Barnett

The Channel crossing delays at Dover are down to a "lack of willingness" from a French government that is "furious" with the UK over Brexit, Conservative MP Jeremy Hunt has told LBC.

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The former foreign secretary said the French government is not willing to cooperate because they are "furious about Brexit and they are furious with Boris".

Mr Hunt, who was foreign secretary from 2018 to 2019, said there may be some short-term issues in terms of staffing on the French side, but the main problem is the relationship between the two countries.

"There's a lack of willingness in the French government to be cooperative with Britain in any way at all," he told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

"They are furious about Brexit, they are furious with Boris, they think we've mucked up their long-term plan for a united Europe, and I hope that when we have a new prime minister we can have a reset in relations with France and indeed the EU more broadly, so that we can cooperate as good neighbours should."

Read more: 'Only the start': Holiday hell at Folkestone amid warnings of more summer gridlock

Read more: Dover port boss blames Brexit for delays as he explains passport 'checks and stamps'

Queues at Dover.
Queues at Dover. Picture: Alamy

He added: "We've got a lot of things in common with the French, we have very similar views when it comes to the big challenges the world faces, and we are the two biggest militaries in Europe and we need to be working together at a time of tremendous peril on the international scene."

He said he hopes when a new prime minister is in place in September it can be the "start of something different".

Travel chaos erupted at Dover and Folkestone over the weekend, with some families sitting in queues for 21 hours.

Police got involved when HGV drivers tried to jump the queues, issuing over 100 fines to drivers.

Drivers are being warned they face more gridlock throughout the summer, with the AA warning passport checks need to be significantly sped up to avoid repeated disruption.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: "This has been an incredible weekend of traffic jams into Dover and Folkestone, and holidaymakers will have been frustrated and angry at the delays."

He warned: "We are concerned that we could be in for a repeat of this congestion across the summer."

Doug Bannister, the CEO of the port of Dover, told LBC it's "absolutely true" that Brexit is ultimately to blame for the extreme delays.

He said we are in a "post-Brexit environment," which means the transaction times through the borders are going to take longer because passports require extra checks.

On Sunday the coastal town of Folkestone became the epicentre of getaway chaos when most schools in England and Wales broke up for summer.

Queues at Folkestone.
Queues at Folkestone. Picture: Alamy

It took the unwanted title from Dover, where traffic levels returned to normal on Sunday after two days of hours-long queues and congestion.

Manesh Luthra, a father of three, left Essex with his family at 4am on Saturday and got to the Eurotunnel terminal by 5.45am ahead of their 7.50am train.

But he told the BBC: "We joined the back of the queue for what was the worse 21 hours experienced.

"We moved metres in hours."

They considered packing the holiday in and other drivers were cutting in, he said.

British officials blamed French understaffing on Friday for the chaos, while other critics said it was a consequence of increased post-Brexit checks. Both elements were noted by Doug Bannister, the port's CEO.

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