Behind the scenes

Downing Street ‘incandescent’ after France closed border

1,500 lorries stuck in Kent as UK and France aim to restart trade

Downing Street officials were reportedly left “incandescent” by Emmanuel Macron’s decision to close France’s borders to British hauliers amid fears of the new Covid-19 strain.

A source in No. 10 told The Times that Downing Street staff could barely conceal their anger at the French plan, saying Macron “was trying to leverage the new strain of the coronavirus to apply pressure in Brexit negotiations”. 

They added that “Macron was motivated by a need to appear decisive to his own voters”, a claim the paper notes has been denied in France.

EU officials said that the move to block British lorries was part of a failure to coordinate across the block, describing it as a “shitstorm”. “All European governments are being kicked for not doing enough. The curve is rising anyway, it is not going well,” they said. 

Over 1,500 lorries are stuck in Kent waiting to leave the UK as “politicians thrash out a plan to reopen France’s border to trade and travel”, the BBC reports. Home Secretary Priti Patel told BBC Breakfast this morning that 650 lorries are stacked up on the M20, with a further 873 at a lorry park.

Patel added that testing lorry drivers at ports was “part of the discussions” and said that "getting those tests up and running can happen relatively quickly”.

The bloc is “understood to be pressing for UK arrivals to be tested for the virus before entering their countries”, the BBC says. Almost every EU country has blocked travel from the UK and leaders are in talks about a united response. 

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