I wrote here back in April about “fog in the channel, continent cut off”, and in June about how it feels to go through the other channel at immigration in Europe. UK airports were in chaos, the number of flights and passengers leaving the UK have been capped to control demand and reduce delays. Post-Brexit changes caused chaos at the airports. Now the problems are at Dover, and on the roads in Kent, where I live.
The fog in the channel joke is on my mind again. It reveals so much of the psyche of “Little Englanders”. Initially, the “Little Englanders” label was used to attack those opposed to the territorial expansion of the British Empire and willing to accept early decolonisation. Language evolves. “Little Englanders” is now used to label those who think England is better than all other countries and that we should only work together with other countries when there is a clear advantage to England.
Isaac Chotiner wrote in The New Yorker in November 2019 “From Little Englanders to Brexiteers: How Britain’s imperial decline led to today’s populist eruption, and to a crisis that may never fully be resolved.” Brexit resulted in the Northen Ireland protocol identity and trade issues which are festering and remain unresolved. Brexit may also result in Scotland brealing away from the United Kigdom… Chotinor quotes O’Toole, the Brexiteers, “would make much of the idea of restoring the blue-covered ‘British passport’ as an icon of independent identity. But asked in 2011 what nationality they would have on their passport if they could choose, fully 40 per cent of English respondents chose English.”
For the record, the new British Passports are black, not blue, the colour of the old passports issued by the UK before we joined Europe. During 2020/21 UK passport printing moved from Gateshead in the UK to the Thales Group, based in France. We now import our passports from France. You could not make this up.
The British electorate was constantly told by those campaigning for Brexit. In 2017, Brexiteer John Redwood was mocking those raising concerns about travel and trade disruption, saying in the Commons: “There’s another one that they are constantly telling us, which is that there will be lorries queueing all the way back from Dover.
The current chaos cannot be blamed on Brexit and Britain’s determination to ‘Take Back Control’. Prior to Brexit there were very few border controls, now they are required.
As travel expert Simon Calder explained to Daily Mail columnist Andrew Pierce on Good Morning Britain “Andrew Pierce, I’m afraid to say, you have got exactly what you wanted, which is the effects of Brexit which gives back control to the French.”
We have said we wanted to be treated as third country citizens. That means instead of just waving the passport out of the window when you breeze past, or just being completely waved past because there’s a bit of a queue building up, the French official has to – because we asked to be third country nationals – ask you to see your passport.
Now French officials have to stamp passports and carry out a number of checks including:
- checking the identity page
- checking the traveller hasn’t been to the EU for more than 90 days in the last 180 days
- checking if you have at least 3 months left on your passport
- checking that your passport is issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country
- checking the traveller has a return ticket
- checking proof of insurance for your trip
- asking whether the traveller has enough money to stay
This takes more time and queues form, very long queues.
Back in December 2020, the Financial Times reported that the UK government rejected a bid to double the number of French passport booths at Dover from 5 to 10.
If EU plans for new biometric checks on arrivals come into effect in Spring 2023 expect longer queues.
There is now more than fog in the channel and Dover residents are impacted too.
The UK “ government has failed to invest in additional facilities at Dover and “Travel chaos is ‘the new normal’ after Brexit, British tourists are warned.