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BREXIT

‘Brexit terms must be respected’: EU’s Barnier sends message to Boris Johnson

The Brexit terms that Britain agreed to before formally exiting the European Union "must be respected," chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said Monday, after reports that London might seek legislation to override key parts of the deal.

'Brexit terms must be respected': EU's Barnier sends message to Boris Johnson
Michel Barnier arrives at 10 Downing Street for Brexit talks. AFP

“Everything that has been signed must be respected,” Barnier told France Inter radio, in response to a Financial Times report claiming British Premier Boris Johnson wanted to revise agreements on Northern Ireland and state aid.

Barnier said he would discuss the report with his British counterpart David Frost during an eighth round of negotiations on a future trade deal this week.

“The important thing for me is what the prime minister says and does, and what the British government itself says and does,” he said.

Regarding Northern Ireland, Barnier insisted that under the withdrawal deal it will continue to apply the EU's single market rules, intended to avoid a “hard border” with Ireland but which would effectively create a trade border in the Irish Sea.

The move is meant to avoid reviving sectarian tensions between Ireland and Northern Ireland that were largely calmed by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

“No land border is the pre-requisite for peace since the end of the conflict… and it's the pre-requisite for a united and coherent economy for the entire island, and also to respect the single market,” Barnier said.

Talk of changing the Withdrawal Agreement has naturally prompted concerns among Britons in Europe and the citizens rights groups.

 

Johnson said Sunday that a trade deal with the EU must be reached by October 15, in order for it to be in force by the end of this year.

“If we can't agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us,” he said in a statement released by his office.

Britain formally left the 27-member bloc on January 31, but remains bound by EU rules while it tries to thrash out new terms of its relationship.

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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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