Minister Gerald Darmanin visited Calais on Monday to try to ease the growing concerns in northern France about the impact of Britain leaving the EU without an agreement.
Darmanin made it clear that this was now the scenario that the French government was getting ready to face.
“Right now the prime minister is asking the government to prepare for the worst case scenario – the “no-deal, so as if there was no transition period and no agreement,” Darmanin told France Blue Nord radio.
“The worst case scenario would leave no legal links between the EU and the UK so there would be a need to implement the necessary laws, notably in the Channel Tunnel,” he said.
“We must prepare for the worst and that is from March 29th, there is no legal relationship with the UK.”
Philippe also asked Darmanin who is in charge of customs to come up with a plan to ensure “the greatest fluidity of border controls” when the UK leaves the EU.
Concern is growing in northern France particularly in Calais about the potential chaos at the ports if Britain leaves the EU without an amicable divorce settlement.
Michel Lalande, the prefect of the Hauts-de-France region which includes Calais, warned the French government that an extra 250 border police and 195 customs officers would have to be recruited immediately to help officials cope with the chaos that would result from a no-deal Brexit.
Lalande said regional authorities were working on a “crisis management plan” to try to limit the potential chaos of Britain leaving the EU on March 29th without a deal.
Darmanin said he was preparing customs authorities for the worst case scenario so they would be ready to carry out extra checks the day after Brexit, but he said some 700 extra officers would be employed over the next three years.
The minister told Les Echos newspaper the port of Calais and the Eurotunnel terminal would have to be adapted so customs checks can be carried out on goods coming across the Channel.