France prepares for no-deal Brexit ‘just in case’

France is preparing support measures for sectors that would be impacted by a no-deal Brexit "just in case" negotiations fall through, the French European Affairs Minister said Thursday.

France prepares for no-deal Brexit 'just in case'
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron during a state visit in London in June. Photo: AFP

Clément Beaune told France Inter radio he was “worried” about the outcome of ongoing talks, but said “I believe an agreement is still possible.”

But he stressed that a deal would not be sought at all costs.

“A bad deal, which would yield too much to the British, which would give them access to our market without having to respect our sanitary, climate and other rules… would be much worse” than no deal at all, he said.

Meanwhile, France was preparing support measures for sectors such as fishing and tourism, he said.

READ ALSO: France's new Carte de Séjour website on track for October launch

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said he had full confidence negotiations would avoid a “no-deal” Brexit even as talks remained deadlocked.

On Monday, British lawmakers gave their initial approval to a controversial bill that overrides parts of the divorce treaty agreed with Brussels last year. 

Beaune said that if the legislation was a negotiating tactic known as madman theory – which seeks to scare adversaries into submission by giving off an air of dangerous recklessness – “it won't work” in the face of European unity.

The EU has said the bill amounts to a breach of international law and demands it be withdrawn.



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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.