A FRENCH police chief who is critical of Brexit was blamed for the Dover traffic chaos which continued to cause misery for thousands of holidaymakers yesterday.
It came as French border staff working inside Dover port carried out full passport checks for the first time since 2019.Fernand Gontier is the French police chief blamed for the travel chaos[/caption] Families faced 30-hour queues attempting to cross through Dover[/caption]
Fernand Gontier, 62, director general of France’s PAF Border Police, has been moaning about Britain leaving the EU since the referendum in 2016 — calling it a “regression”.
He was accused of being responsible for there not being enough French officers in Dover port to process checks on Friday.
Families faced 30-hour queues while as few as four of 12 French border passport booths were opened at one time.
And there were still queues of up to six hours yesterday as the Kent cross-Channel ferry port officials struggled to cope with the huge backlog built up from Friday.
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Dover MP Natalie Elphicke let rip at Mr Gontier after some of his border staff did not turn up to work on Friday.
She said: “First, the French don’t turn up to work, then they refuse to apologise for ruining Brits’ well-deserved holidays.
“No wonder people are asking whether this is yet more anti-British behaviour from the French to punish us for leaving the EU.
“I’m really disappointed by Mr Gontier. How was this allowed to happen?
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“He’s responsible as the chief. He has questions to answer.”
Meanwhile, a Port of Dover source said yesterday: “It’s clear Mr Gontier is not a fan of Brexit.
“It feels that them not opening at full capacity on Friday has caused a backlog still being seen today.”
Doug Bannister, chief executive of the Port of Dover, was also critical, saying he felt “let down”.
Mr Bannister said yesterday was spent clearing a “significant backlog”, with more long delays crippling the area and angering families on the first weekend of the school summer break.
He said: “I’m sorry for all the travellers, truck drivers and our local communities that got caught up in the severe disruption.”
About 10,000 cars were expected to pass through the port yesterday — up 1,500 on Friday’s figure.
And sources said holidaymakers were now experiencing full passport checks which were taking longer to complete.
It is the first summer since Brexit and Covid in 2020 there have been full passport checks by the French.
The last time that there was a normal summer getaway, with large numbers heading to the continent, the UK was still in the EU and Brits were not subject to the full checks.
There was further chaos on the M20 leading to the Channel Tunnel yesterday.
Officials declared a major incident due to the volume of traffic. Some 3,000 lorries were also waiting to cross.
They were parked on the M20 at Dover while holiday traffic was prioritised.
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Mr Gontier has 12,300 men and women under his command — but his period as PAF chief has also seen thousands of his own staff complain of shortages.
These include the Eurostar hub in Paris, where long queues have become routine due to the shortage of officers on duty.