French border guards have warned Brits to expect lengthy delays after Brexit with 1970s-style customs and checks in place.
Long queues formed at Gare du Nord and traffic jams built up around the French port of Calais this week as border officials imposed a “work-to-rule” to demonstrate the need for more staff to deal with checks after the UK quits the European Union.
One border guard declared: “This will be what it is like after Brexit. Back to 1970s”, as passengers and trains were hit by delays of up to two hours.
Vincent Thomazo, of France’s UNSA customs union, said there was deep concern about how the free flow of people would be hampered by Brexit, saying the “delays and long queues” proved how customs and security staff were not equipped to cope.
Talking to the Standard, engineer Doug Green, who was travelling on the 13.03 service when he was caught up in the chaos, said staff were forcing people to move through just one x-ray machine before being quizzed by customs officials “because they are not happy about Brexit”.
He said: “It took well over an hour to get through customs. They are restricting the flow. There is only one x-ray machine on the go and then customs officers are asking you questions about where you have been, what is in your bag, how much money do you have.
“It is a pain in the arse.”
Sky Political editor Faisal Islam said the delays could last for days now, with French customs instigating third country “reinforced” checks ahead of No Deal Brexit on all passengers at Eurostar terminal and Calais.
French Customs on day 2 instigating what I think are 3rd Country “reinforced” checks ahead of No Deal Brexit on all passengers at Eurostar terminal, (Calais too on freight) douane asking everyone (incl EU/UK) after bag search why in France, & for how long = lengthy queues/delays pic.twitter.com/RrrownV21R
— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) March 7, 2019
Lucy Hagger bemoaned the delays on Twitter, saying she felt like “a pawn in the Brexit game” as French Eurostar staff prove “how terrible Brexit will be”.
Elizabeth Paton added: “I dread to think how Eurostar will manage post March 29. Insane line today due to “increased customs controls”. Major delays. Rude staff giving no explanations. I’ve been between two passport controls for 30 mins.”
— Nev on Eurostar (@EurostarNev) March 6, 2019
No joke, French trade unions are staging a “Brexit style” work to rule at the Gare du Nord in Paris today. It’s aimed at getting Eurostar passengers used to long delays, queues, & fractious arguments with surly officials who don’t like the look of blue passports. Allez les gars ! pic.twitter.com/I0iwRrVvRT
— Peter Allen (@peterallenparis) March 6, 2019