Dover lorry backlog hits 1500 as talks with France go on over shutdown

Published: 22 December 2020

Post Desk : Priti Patel has admitted that more than 1,500 trucks are stacked in Kent waiting to enter the blocked port of Dover following the French ban on lorries entering the country from Britain.

The Home Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday that there are currently 650 vehicles queued on the M20 and 873 at a holding site at the Manston airfield.

On Monday Boris Johnson said that just 170 trucks were queuing in Kent as a result of the Government’s preparations for a no deal Brexit.

The latest crisis was triggered by the French government’s decision on Sunday night to suspend the entry of flights, ferries and trains from the UK because of fears about the spread of the new faster spreading mutant strain of the coronavirus.

That in turn stopped many hauliers from crossing into the UK because of fears they would get marooned in Britain.

Ms Patel said her Cabinet colleague Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was engaged in “positive and proactive” discussions with his French counterparts but would not give any timetable for the relaxation of the blockade.

The British Retail Consortium has said that supermarket shortages can be avoided is trucks can start crossing the Channel again. However stocks short-life fruit and vegetables that cannot be grown in Britain in the winter such as salads and citrus fruit could start running low within days if there is no breakthrough.

Ms Patel told BBC Breakfast “You’ll hear later on today in terms of developments and updates.”

She added: ”testing lorry drivers at ports was “part of the discussions”, and added: “Getting those tests up and running can happen relatively quickly.”

Rod McKenzie, managing director of the Road Haulage Association, told BBC Breakfast: “Clearly those drivers have spent a second night parked up somewhere, possibly on a motorway, possibly somewhere else, trying to get across the Channel, and many of them are European drivers trying to get home for Christmas, and their morale is very poor.

“Yesterday, Kent county council offered each of them one cereal bar, which is a pretty poor effort, I think, in terms of maintaining their morale, and their spirits.”

France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune said any plans will be agreed by Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron and come into effect from Wednesday.

More than 40 countries have now banned UK arrivals., including almost every EU member state.

However, rail operator Eurotunnel said it hoped passengers would be able to travel between the UK and France from tomorrow or Thursday.