Border closures: Radio caller criticises decision
Shane, a TalkRADIO caller speaking from Kent, claimed he believed the move was merely a way for France to “flex its muscles” ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period next week. The furious Brexiteer urged French President Emmanuel Macron to stop causing chaos at the border as he argued the impact on supplies between the two countries will also damage the other side.
He said: “I think the ferry companies shouldn’t be spoken to harshly.
“If we can get the French to concede that they are just doing this to flex their muscles.
“They can’t stop transport drivers, it’s going to inflict the same sort of harm on their side as well as our side.”
Talks in Brussels remain difficult with “significant differences in key areas”, including fishing rights and rules on maintaining fair competition.
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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have led calls for the deadline to be extended while the Government battles the spread of the new coronavirus variant.
But Downing Street rejected the call and dismissed the idea of a temporary “standstill” period maintaining current arrangements beyond the end of the year.
And Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also declined to back calls for an extension, instead urging the Prime Minister to strike a deal with Brussels.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said “time is obviously in very short supply” to get a deal done and ratified by January 1 with the UK prepared for World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms if there is no agreement with the EU.
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Trade has already been disrupted after France banned hauliers travelling from the UK due to fears over the spread of the more infectious strain of coronavirus.
Asked if there was a possible Brexit element in the travel restrictions by the Continent, a reminder of how vulnerable the UK might be in the event of a no-deal, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We’re continuing to work closely with our international partners, as is the case throughout the pandemic there have been different travel restrictions imposed around the world.
“We recently suspended travel from Denmark (due) to a new variant being discovered there. Country-specific travel restrictions and public health measures are a matter for each individual country.”
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Downing Street said the UK Government was in contact with the French authorities about the ban on lorries crossing the channel.
Asked whether Boris Johnson believed the French action was justified, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are obviously working incredibly closely with our international partners and are working urgently to minimise the disruption as far as possible.”
The spokesman added that “we are in close contact with the French to try and get this resolved”.
Talks on a post-Brexit trade deal are expected to continue this week.
Lead negotiators Michel Barnier and Lord Frost were continuing talks on Monday but the discussions over the weekend were described as “difficult”.
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