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Montevideo, August 14th 2022 - 12:44 UTC

 

 

PM Johnson pledges to unblock trade across the Channel, but situation sounds chaotic

Tuesday, December 22nd 2020 - 07:22 UTC
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“Delays only apply to a very small percentage of food entering the UK,” the Prime Minister said, pledging to sort out the problem “in the next few hours”. “Delays only apply to a very small percentage of food entering the UK,” the Prime Minister said, pledging to sort out the problem “in the next few hours”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday sought to sound a note of calm saying he was working “as fast as possible” to unblock trade across the Channel after France shut its borders to UK haulers in a bid to contain a new variant of the coronavirus.

Following conversations with French President Emmanuel Macron over the ban, which has caused chaos around the key UK port of Dover and led to concerns of food shortages just days before Christmas, Mr Johnson said supply chains remained “strong and robust”.

“These delays only apply to a very small percentage of food entering the UK,” the Prime Minister told a press conference, adding that he wanted to sort out the problem “in the next few hours”.

France's snap decision on Sunday, which was initially set to last for 48 hours, was made in a bid to contain the new strain of the virus, discovered in the UK, which officials have said is 70% more transmissible.

The ban caused Britain to bring forward “Operation Stack”, the contingency plan drawn up to deal with anticipated freight tailbacks on roads around Dover in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister called a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee to discuss the situation regarding international travel and in particular the regular flow of freight.

Misery was piled on travelers trying to leave Britain as around 30 nations introduced bans on individuals arriving from the UK in a bid to contain the new coronavirus variant of the disease.

The chaos on the roads surrounding the key port is a stark sign of what to expect should Britain leave the EU without a deal in 10 days.

However, Mr Johnson said that during his call with Mr Macron the pair had “vowed” not to discuss Brexit as negotiations between London and Brussels continue.

Road signs near the Channel port, through which 10,000 heavy goods vehicles pass each day, on Monday urged people to go home, saying that the French border was closed.

A disused airfield was opened later on Monday to serve as a lorry park for up to 4,000 stranded drivers.

UK supermarket Sainsbury's warned that prolonged disruption could lead to “gaps over the coming days” in the supply of lettuce, cauliflowers, broccoli and citrus fruit.

The ban on all but unaccompanied freight crossing to France comes as companies scramble to shift merchandise with days to go until Britain finally quits EU trade structures.

Categories: Economy, Politics, International.

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