Behind the scenes

French border closure scuppered by Poland

Other Eastern European EU members also opposed the blockade, which trapped their citizens in the UK

Britain’s borders reopened last night after France was left isolated within the EU by its decision to stop the flow of goods from the UK.

After “intensive talks” between Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, an agreement was struck to allow travel across the Channel with “a negative PCR test for the coronavirus, which can take up to 72 hours to give a result”, The Times reports.

However, military personnel and health officials will now be sent to Kent to administer lateral flow tests, which give results in just 20 minutes, to get the thousands of lorry drivers stuck in the 20-mile traffic jam back on the road.

Macron yielded over the border blockade after finding “himself at odds with the European Commission and much of the EU over his decision to ban freight at the weekend”, Politico reports. An EU source told the site the French president came “under pressure from the Polish government and other Eastern European countries with hauliers stuck in Kent who want to get home for Christmas”.

And the French president appears to have backed down over his demand for PCR tests. A government source telling Politico that Johnson was “full of praise” for how Transport Secretary Grant Shapps handled the crisis.

Work is now underway to clear the logjam of hauliers, after the Salvation Army was last night needed to “provide truckers with meals after Kent County Council asked for its help”, Business Insider says.

Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, told Sky News that it could take “a few days” to test all the drivers before they can travel to France, adding: “I hope that this morning you will see people and HGVs crossing the Channel.”

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