> French truculence, not Brexit, is to blame for the chaos at Dover

French truculence, not Brexit, is to blame for the chaos at Dover

The queues of travellers and lorry drivers at Dover and Folkestone waiting to cross the Channel are the latest manifestation of a summer of transport dislocation. The trains have been hit by strikes and will be again in the coming weeks. Airports have been seriously disrupted by staff shortages affecting the number of flights and baggage reclaim for those lucky enough to get one.

The airlines must bear some responsibility for selling seats they could not process and for laying off too many employees during the pandemic. They are now finding it hard to recruit.

But the pandemonium at the Channel ports is of a different order. At this time of year there are inevitably going to be far more people travelling. This past weekend and the next are the busiest as families leave on holidays after schools break up. Yet the French border guards who must check the passports of holidaymakers and the paperwork of lorry drivers failed to prepare. Too few officials turned up to deal with the flood of travellers on Friday, causing the problems to mount.

The French authorities denied it was their fault saying France was not responsible for Brexit. But this had nothing to do with Brexit. There has always been a border between the two countries because the UK has never been in the Schengen Area. This was totally avoidable had the French played their part fully, but the suspicion is that, as with cross-Channel asylum seekers, Paris is happy to see Britain face difficulties that can be blamed on the decision to quit the EU.

Since Brexit, Boris Johnson was fond of saying that our “friends” in Europe would see the mutual benefits of continuing to behave civilly towards each other. Not France it seems.

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