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France blames Brexit for Channel chaos and says UK should join the Schengen zone
25 July 2022, 14:31 | Updated: 25 July 2022, 14:47
A French regional leader has blamed Brexit for delays at Dover and Folkestone and suggested the UK should join the Schengen zone.
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François Decoster, vice president of the Haute-de-France region, which includes Calais, said: "Brexit means we must do new controls.
"I have felt very sorry for the families, we like to welcome British tourists and we want them to come easily to our beautiful places.
"We have a few non-EU members who are members of Schengen, why don't we explore such an idea?"
Downing Street has insisted Channel chaos has nothing to do with Brexit.
It comes after Conservative MP Jeremy Hunt told LBC the Channel crossing delays were down to a "lack of willingness" from a French government that is "furious" with the UK over Brexit.
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".
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.
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."
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".
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.
It took the unwanted title from Dover, where traffic levels returned to normal on Sunday after two days of hours-long queues and congestion.