French border officers are being blamed for the “critical incident” that has been declared by the gridlocked Port of Dover at the start of the busiest summer getaway in years.
“Woefully inadequate” staffing by French Border officials at Dover port is cited by chief executive Doug Bannister who told the BBC they have been “badly let down” by “insufficiently resourced” French border controls.
Speaking to Sky News, Bannister said : “We’ve got a critical incident under way. We’ve been badly let down this morning by the French border.
“Insufficient resources and much slower than normal transactions, which is leading to significant congestion around the port this morning.”
French authorities said their border force police were delayed getting to Dover by an “unforeseeable technical incident” in the Eurotunnel this morning (July 22).
‘Total gridlock’ at Dover port
Cross-channel ferry and Eurotunnel passengers have been caught up for hours in miles of traffic queues in Kent that have been described as a “critical bottleneck” by Bannister.
Simon Calder, the Independent’s travel editor, explained: “Since Brexit it has been necessary to have every single passport stamped at Dover.” Before Brexit passengers could show their passport to French border police but “now they are obliged to stamp” all passports, said Calder, adding: “As a result of that everything takes much longer.”
The Telegraph reports on travellers’ “misery and frustration” at being “trapped in ‘total gridlock’” as motorists queue for hours on one the busiest days of the year for the port town.
Conservative MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke blamed French border officers who “didn’t turn up for work at the passport controls as needed. This has caused massive delays,” said Elphicke, adding it is “vital that the French passport controls are fully staffed during this peak holiday period.”
French authorities said an “unforeseeable technical incident” in the Eurotunnel delayed their border police getting to the Dover, where pre-departure visa and passports checks for travellers entering the EU are carried out. Dover port said French border resources have been increased and the “traffic is slowly beginning to move,” according to the BBC.
Union deal with BA averts summer strikes
Better news for travellers comes in the announcement that British Airways staff have called off their summer strike action, after agreeing a deal with employers.
Some 700 BA ground staff at Heathrow were set to strike after a 10% pay cut by imposed the airline during the pandemic was not reinstated. However, Unite and GMB trade union members have voted to accept a deal that includes an 8% pay rise, a one-off bonus and the reintroduction of extra pay for irregular shifts.
“This is a great result for our check-in members at British Airways,” said Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary. “By standing together, they have forced a corporate giant like BA to do the right thing and restore levels of pay slashed in the pandemic.”
EU takes four new legal cases against UK to ECJ
Meanwhile, the European Union is launching fresh legal action against the UK government following Westminster MP’s backing for the Northern Ireland protocol bill.
The EU is taking four new legal cases to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), citing the UK’s failure to enforce EU customs and VAT and excise rules. These are on top of three previous legal cases already heading to the ECJ which has power to enforce multimillion-euro daily fines on the UK for breaches of the Brexit agreement.
The European Commission said they have been forced to take legal action because the UK government has failed to participate in any “meaningful discussion” over the Northern Ireland protocol since February.
The Independent says the “move will increase the heat on [the favourite to become the next PM] Liz Truss, who as foreign secretary has had oversight of the negotiations with Brussels.” She is also the main architect of the NI Protocol bill.