New post-Brexit border checks ‘could trigger 17-mile tailbacks’ at Dover


It is proposed that UK citizens embarking on cross-Channel trips from Dover will be checked by French police at the Kent port

Post-Brexit EU border identity checks could lead to 17-mile lorry queues at Dover, MPs were told.

Elizabeth de Jong, director of policy at trade body Logistics UK, warned it would be “very bad news” if lorry drivers are required to leave their vehicles to undergo biometric checks from next year.

The new system for monitoring non-EU travellers entering the bloc’s Schengen Area is due to be implemented in April.

It is proposed that UK citizens embarking on cross-Channel trips from Dover will be checked by French police at the Kent port.

Ms Jong told the Commons’ Transport Select Committee she hopes that “pragmatic negotiations” take place which result in lorry drivers being able to stay in their cabs.

Lorries queue on the A2 in Dover
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Image:

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Forcing drivers to leave their vehicles “takes up a lot of time and also leads to security issues for the loads and for migrants”, she said.

“An increase in two minutes processing for each lorry would lead to a 17-mile delay at the Dover border.”

Asked about the consequences of requiring drivers to leave their vehicles, she said: “If it is going to be implemented, then we will be needing to have the same amount of contingencies as we were having for our worst-case planning scenarios for Brexit and the Operation Stack.

“It is very bad news indeed.”

Operation Stack involves freight traffic travelling to the Continent being held on parts of the M20 in an attempt to prevent gridlock on Kent’s local road network during disruption at Dover.

Post-Brexit planning included Operation Brock, which involved the installation of a moveable barrier on the motorway to enable lorries to be held and a contraflow system to be implemented.

The barrier was removed in April.

Operation Brock was put in place on Kent’s motorways in 2019 as part of the Government’s no-deal planning
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PA)

Another measure saw Manston Airport being used as a temporary lorry park.

It comes as a senior Government official said it is currently “pretty hard to be sure” of the effect Brexit has had on trade.

Alex Chisholm, permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, told the Public Accounts Committee that statistics experts believe “it’s too early to disentangle the impact of both Covid-19 and EU exit”.

“I’m sure that is a wise view of the matter,” he said.

“It looks as if there’s been a slight rebalancing of trade between UK and EU versus UK and the rest of the world… and that’s obviously been a trend over a long period of time. What we don’t know is whether or not this apparent acceleration in that reflects EU exit effects versus Covid, because you’ve got some very substantial distortions there.”

Mr Chisholm added: “So it’s basically pretty noisy and pretty hard to be sure what the effect of EU exit on trade is at this point in time.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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