The UK is “not direct” its borders to the same size as France, a union official for UK Border Force workers has said, amid questions over the source of widespread delays at Dover.
Lucy Moreton, professional officer for the ISU union convey Border Force officers, said delays of up to 17 hours at Dover over the weekend were chiefly a result of Brexit.
Moreton told Radio 4’s Today plan that French officials now need to inspect every single passport of people moving to the country from the UK, which is the main cause of the problem.
She said: “The biggest element is that all the middle order, post-Brexit, have gone and the French border control authorities will now inspect and stamp every single paper because we can no longer spend more than a total of 90 days in France during any one year.”
Moreton said that, early, officials may have checked passports and waved passengers through, but now they have to check each separate one to confirm the number of days spent in France.
She said this was especially cumbersome for vehicles taking multiple passengers, such as coaches.
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“Before, they would have glanced at a passport, seen it was a UK passport, and waved you through. But now everyone has to get off the coach and have their passport inspected and stamped, then get back on,” she said.
Moreton said that “other elements” – counting bad weather and more coaches arriving than expected – may have contributed to delays, but that the government of the post-Brexit system was the leading cause of the miles-long queues to enter the Kent port.
Moreton also outlined that queues in France were not as bad as in the UK because border staff was not as stringent as their French counterparts.
“The UK command hasn’t changed their salute so your passport will be checked but it will not be stamped,” she said. “That was a resolve taken by the UK government at the time that we were going to continue with this light-touch control.”
Doug Bannister, CEO of the Port of Dover, blamed border control officials, Police aux Frontières, for failing to provide enough numbers to staff the passport booths.
The port boss said on Friday: “The cause of it is French quit controls. We’ve been let down this morning notwithstanding the planning of the last several months to get ready for this day.”
He said there had been long-term planning for weeks for the summer holiday, which awaited to be the busiest day for two years. Only four of nine booths for the French border controls for travelers leaving the UK were reported to have been people on Friday morning, which port officials say led to the backlogs.
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The perfect for the Hauts-de-France region, Georges-François Leclerc, said it was incorrect to say that the French had failed to mobilize sufficient border police, but some officials were delayed by an hour in arriving at their posts.
Pierre-Henri Dumont, the Calais MP, said delays were caused by Brexit and the necessity to stamp every passport. He said yesterday it was “fake news” to blame the French power. He also said Dover struggled to cope with peak demand.
disorder at the port may get worse when new biometric checks are brought in as part of the new European Union entry/exit system (EES) for third-party requirements. These may require people to leave their vehicles for biometry checks similar to those in place at airports. MPs warned the new checks at Dover could cause “confusion, disturbance, and delay”.
The checks were due to have been applied this year, but have already been delayed. UK exodus officials and Dover port managers accept that Brexit is a factor because of the additional checks required.
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Rishi Sunak’s official speaker said “a merger of factors” were to blame for delays – including poor weather and the high volume of traffic.
Asked whether Brexit was one of the factors, the representative noted French officials now manually inspected and print every passport as passengers left the UK, which required time.
The spokesman said: “We accept there are new processes in place – that’s why authorities were given a long time to prepare for the new checks, counting during the transition period, of course.
“And we are in discussion with our French equal about how we can further improve the flow of traffic.”
Delays to access ferries to France from Dover were first reported on Friday night when the port proclaim a critical incident.
Extra ferries that were laid on overnight on Saturday were not enough to prevent the queues at Dover from increasing through much of Sunday.
Officials have described that long border processing times were partly to blame for delays – and ferry companies said bad weather had disrupted some journeys.
The port said ferry companies received 15% more coach bookings for the Easter period than what had been anticipated – which take longer to process than cars.