Rees-Mogg admits he 'got it wrong' when he said Brexit wouldn’t cause huge queues at Dover

2 August 2022, 08:17 | Updated: 2 August 2022, 09:31

But he said he 'got it wrong for the right reason'

By Asher McShane

Jacob Rees-Mogg admitted on LBC this morning that he ‘got it wrong’ in 2018 when he said Brexit wouldn’t lead to long delays at Dover.

Nick Ferrari reminded the Brexit opportunities minister of their 2018 interview when he was asked whether there might be longer queues at Dover because of Brexit.

In the 2018 interview, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “There will be no need for checks at Dover but it will be an ability to ensure that the roads keep running around Dover, even if there are delays at Calais.

"The delays will not be at Dover, they will be at Calais,” he said.

Asked about that claim this morning, days after a critical incident was declared at Dover with queues of as long as 12 hours, reports of lorry drivers passing out and families forced to relieve themselves beside their cars, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “The delays are caused by the French. They are French-created delays.

Jacob Rees-Mogg admitted he 'got it wrong' on queues at Dover
Jacob Rees-Mogg admitted he 'got it wrong' on queues at Dover. Picture: Alamy/LBC

“Yes, of course I got that wrong. I got it wrong for the right reason.

“The point I was making was that the only delays would be caused by the French if they decided not to allow British people to pass through freely.

“We have juxtaposed border controls and that means that if the French don’t operate their system properly, we get the delays.

“British people might think going to Portugal is more fun. Why should we go and spend our hard-earned money in France if the French don't want us?" he asked.

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

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

“I’m not suggesting a boycott [of France]. There’s something to be said for supporting people that support you.”

Last week Britain and France announced they have put plans in place to prevent further border chaos.

In a joint statement last Friday, Phil Douglas, director general of Border Force and Brigitte Lafourcade, deputy director general at Police Aux Frontieres said the two countries are "working closely" to support the smooth flow of traffic.

It comes after tens of thousands of families saw their cross-Channel journeys ruined the previous weekend by gridlocked traffic and delays of several hours, blamed on a shortage of French border officers and a serious crash on the M20 coinciding with the school holidays.

Holidaymakers were delayed for many hours due to the huge queues in recent days
Holidaymakers were delayed for many hours due to the huge queues in recent days. Picture: Alamy

Mr Douglas and Ms Lafourcade said: "France and the UK have been working closely together over recent days to prepare for the management of our shared border through the current period of increased passenger traffic.

"Both Police Aux Frontieres and UK Border Force, in partnership with the port operators, have put plans in place at the juxtaposed controls on both sides of the Channel this weekend to maximise passenger flows.

"France and the UK will continue to work together intensively to support fluidity of freight and passengers across the Channel through the summer period and beyond."

The Cabinet Office said UK and French officials have had regular discussions last week on the travel chaos.

The delays, which have now been largely resolved, were due to a lack of French border guards at Dover
The delays, which have now been largely resolved, were due to a lack of French border guards at Dover. Picture: Alamy

They have now established a new "UK-French Passenger Technical Working group", which will meet weekly during the summer in order to prevent further disruption for passengers travelling to either side of the Channel.

Traffic enforcement has also been put in place to keep roads passable around Dover and Folkestone, the Cabinet Office said.

Several major roads throughout the UK were hit by congestion, affecting holidaymakers heading to the south and south-west of England.

This was due to a combination of the first switchover days for holiday lets during the school summer holidays in England and Wales, a rail strike, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and the start of the Football League season in England.

The AA put its first "amber traffic warning" in place on Friday and for Saturday between 11am and 3pm.

Most of the M25 was congested while the M5 heading south-west was seeing start-stop traffic.

Jams were also slow-moving on the westbound sections of the M4 towards Bristol, the M55/M6 interchange near Preston, Lancashire, the M42 east of Birmingham, the M60 and the M62 in Manchester and the A64 into York.

Yet fears of a repeat of last week's horrendous delays on roads approaching the Port of Dover and Folkestone proved unfounded.

In Dover and Folkstone, the operation was much smoother on Friday, with P&O Ferries saying there were "no queues at border controls and traffic is free-flowing through the port".

Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister said last Thursday that French border controls will be "fully resourced", which will make a "fundamental difference".