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BREXIT

French president Macron says door is still open for UK to stay in EU

French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday the door was "always open" for Britain to remain in the EU even after Prime Minister Theresa May said Brexit talks would begin next week.

French president Macron says door is still open for UK to stay in EU
Photo: AFP

“Of course the door is always open as long as the negotiations on Brexit have not finished,” Macron said in a press conference.

But he stressed that the British people had taken the sovereign decision to leave the 28-member bloc in their referendum a year ago, adding that the start of talks was an important milestone.

“Once it (the Brexit process) has started we need to be collectively clear that it's more difficult to reverse course,” he said at the Elysee palace.

May stressed that she would stick to her timetable of starting Brexit discussions next week in Brussels, saying the talks were “on course” despite her domestic difficulties.

Her Conservative party lost its parliamentary majority in a bungled snap election last week which some observers suggested might lead May to abandon her plans for a so-called “hard Brexit”.

“I think there's a unity of purpose among people in the UK. It's a unity of purpose having voted to leave the EU that their government gets on with that and makes a success of it,” she said.

May and Macron announced a joint action plan to crack down on extremism and terror propaganda online, accusing internet companies and social media networks of doing too little to tackle the scourge.

The measures aim “to ensure the internet cannot be used as a safe space for criminals and terrorists and it cannot be used to host the radicalizing material that leads to so much harm,” May said.

Priorities include looking into encrypted communication platforms used by extremists to evade security forces and new laws to impose penalties on internet companies which fail to remove offensive content.

Facebook, Twitter and other social networks had long argued that they were unable to monitor content posted online by their users, but have grown increasingly sensitive to criticism.

Germany lawmakers recently introduced legislation requiring internet companies to remove content flagged as hate speech within 24 hours.

TRAVEL NEWS

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

OPINION UK-France travel crisis will only be solved when the British get real about Brexit

The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.

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