Brexit WARNING: France threatens to BLOCK Calais unless UK pays £39billion divorce bill
FRANCE has issued a stark warning to the UK, saying that if Britain fails to pay the £39billion divorce bill in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, then they would block the port of Calais.
Delays at Calais border will last weeks says expert
The UK Cabinet has since expressed concern that if the port is blocked, it would cause mayhem for cross-Channel trade and potentially create massive damage to the UK’s economy.
According to the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU), the Dover-Calais crossing is a major weak point for the UK as it is the only roll-on, roll-off ferry hub.
Due to Calais being on French soil, it gives France the ability to cause major delays for lorry drivers that are headed to the UK, especially if they are transporting factory parts for time sensitive supply chains.
French customs officials also have the ability to bring British food exports to France to a grinding halt.
In addition, Brussels can refuse to give the UK the approval it requires to export animal products including meat and dairy for up to six months.
The trade of animal products brings in around £3.5billion a year to the UK economy.
Theresa May was warned that if long-term delays occur in the wake of Brexit, smaller businesses may potentially be forced to shutdown.
According to several Cabinet ministers, the Government would be unable to control the ensuing costs in the event that Calais is blocked.
France threatened to block Calais Port if the UK does not pay the divorce bill
If Calais is blocked it could harm ferry traffic
Some of the ministers who have expressed concern include Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Business Secretary Greg Clark and Environmental Secretary Michael Gove.
Mr Javid added that French border agents could cause chaos just by asking every driver for their reason for travelling.
While most vehicles get through customs in just 25 seconds, an additional 50 seconds could be added by asking drivers for their reason of travel.
Around 10,000 lorries pass through Dover each day and take around two minutes to get processed, but and added two minutes would create a queue over 17 miles long.
Border agents could cause hours of traffic
One cabinet minister said: “We spend whatever we want to prepare on our side of the Channel, but we are completely powerless to compel the French to do the same, and that is a very serious vulnerability for us.
“There is simply no alternative to Dover for just-in-time manufacturers or food exporters, and they together support a significant number of jobs.
“It would do northern French a lot of damage too, and really decimate Ireland, but we expect President Macron will initially attempt some heavy disruption in Calais to turn the screw on us to pay up.”
Despite these concerns, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling argued that Harwich and Felixstowe could be used as a workaround.
Sajid Javid warned that border agents could easily cause traffic
This was refuted by a Cabinet source who spoke with The Sun.
They said: “Grayling is talking bull**s, he literally doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
“There is no workaround to Dover, and rail or air freight is offers nowhere near the same capacity either.”
There are also plans to charter ships so that emergency food and medicines can be brought to other ports in the event that Calais is blocked.
However, Mrs May insisted: “The Government’s priority is to secure a deal.”
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