A taste of Brexit chaos as French test border checks

Folkestone, Kent: Yesterday a five mile truck tailback developed on the M20 approach to the tunnel caused by French authorities testing post-Brexit checks at the Eurotunnel.

The queues give a glimpse of things to come in January whether or not there is a deal. The government last month warned of queues of 7,000 trucks on the M20 and M2 approaches to Eurotunnel and Dover port in a worst-case scenario.

Tuesday’s delays were caused after the Police Aux Frontières, the equivalent to the Border Force, rehearsed new immigration procedures. Under the Le Touquet agreement, French authorities conduct immigration checks at the UK side of the tunnel and the port.

A Highways England spokesman told the Guardian newspaper they had been told a new trial software for border checks, with all HGVs been checked from 6am until 3pm, was responsible for the delay.

“On a conference call chaired by Kent Police at 16.00 we were informed that the trial has now finished and traffic is now free flowing within the port. The queue of HGVs is backed up to around M20 J11, but we expect this to start to ease given the trial is no longer operational,” said the spokesman. Eurotunnel and Port of Dover was also on the call.

The controls require truck drivers to provide passports, and are asked about proof of means, their destination and length of stay which can last up to 70 seconds per passenger.

After January truck drivers, will also face additional delays for checks on food, drink and agricultural products and customs in both directions.
The UK government said it will phase these checks on the British side over six weeks to reduce the chances of gridlock in Dover and on Kent roads.

UK hauliers and and the customs sector have repeatedly warned the government about the delays in key British software which will not be available until December.

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