Huge lorry queues at Dover are a “direct consequence” of Brexit-related red tape, it has been claimed.
According to union Unite, additional border checks introduced at the beginning of this year – adding ten minutes to boarding times for each vehicle – have caused lengthy delays and eye-watering tailbacks, ITV has reported.
Since 1 January, lorries taking goods from the UK to the EU have used the government’s new IT system, the Goods Vehicle Movement System (GVMS), in order to be allowed to leave the port.
But this month, queues have overflown into the A20, reaching as far as four miles on Wednesday.
‘The new normal’
Adrian Jones, Unite’s national officer for road transport, told ITV News: “The fact the GVMS system has been in place for nearly a month is especially alarming because it suggests this is not initial teething problems but the new normal.
“Drivers fear the problems are only going to get worse, not better, as tourism returns to normal and trade pick up. Delays are only going to get longer.”
The GVMS contains all the paperwork needed by exporters to cross the border, but Sam Lowe, a trade specialist at Flint Global, believes that instead of fulfilling its purpose of cutting red tape, telling the broadcaster it is “more burdensome than it was before Brexit, when there was no compliance”.
Meanwhile, Getlink, the Eurotunnel’s operator, has expressed concerns over the government deploying emergency traffic procedures this month, which is “typically a lower traffic time of year”.
‘It’s not Brexit’s fault’
But the government insists queues at Dover are not related to Brexit. This week, transport minister Charlotte Vere told the transport select committee that the congestion is “actually due to the fact that there are three ships being refitted at the moment.”
She added: “Our view is that the delay in Dover is not due to border checks.”
Nonetheless, one source who is closely involved with Brexit-related planning in Kent told ITV News that Brexit is “of course” a factor – and accused the government of “just trying to cover this up”.
Meanwhile, both the Port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel have warned that new biometric checks due to be introduced in September at the border with the EU will cause chaos.
Port of Dover and BBC Reality Check say otherwise
It comes after the Port of Dover admitted the government’s new IT system has sparked border delays.
And the BBC’s Reality Check team have also confirmed that lorry queues at Dover are down to Brexit.
BBC trade correspondent Chris Morris has been told it has been taking about 15 minutes per vehicle to process the paperwork.
He says that is likely to get faster as people get used to the new system, but delays are not going to disappear altogether.