UK minister: Avoiding post-Brexit border chaos is in France’s hands

Michael Gove said French authorities must be “pragmatic,” to avoid 2-day delays at the border | Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

UK minister: Avoiding post-Brexit border chaos is in France’s hands

In a letter to trade bodies, Michael Gove said border delays could stretch to 2 days.


9/23/20, 4:36 PM CET

Updated 9/23/20, 4:38 PM CET

LONDON — Britain’s worst-case scenario predictions of two-day delays at Dover would happen only if the French authorities “decline to be pragmatic,” U.K. Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said Wednesday.

In a letter to trade bodies seen by POLITICO, Gove warned that the government’s “reasonable worst-case scenario” forecasts two-day delays due to border controls, with up to 7,000 trucks stuck at the Port of Dover — regardless of the outcome of ongoing trade talks.

But speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Gove pointed to the role that the French authorities would play, noting they would have the power to send back trucks without the necessary paperwork, “clogging the Dover to Calais crossing.”

“I should stress that [the worst-case scenario] is not a prediction nor a forecast, it is just a prudent exercise of what could occur if we don’t improve preparedness, and of course if our neighbors decline to be pragmatic,” he said.

Gove also doubled down on the need for businesses and individuals to get ready for the post-Brexit border arrangements, which he said will be put in place regardless of the outcome of the negotiations with the EU. Queues, disruption and delay would “subside as unready businesses who had their goods turned back at the French border would not want to repeat the experience,” he said.

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