'New era' at Dover as UK completes EU separation

Roads around Dover were quiet today as the new UK began a new era outside the EU - but there are warnings the situation may change in coming days. The first drivers to enter the UK from France found themselves at the centre of attention as the separation from Europe was finally completed at 11pm on New Year's Eve.

A police officer at the Port of Dover on New Year's Day (43791643) A police officer at the Port of Dover on New Year's Day (43791643)Townwall Street A20 and the lorry crossing roundabout were all quiet on New Year's Day (43791652) Townwall Street A20 and the lorry crossing roundabout were all quiet on New Year's Day (43791652)

There have so far been no signs of delays on surrounding roads, in sharp contrast to the chaos in the area last week as the French closed borders after the discovery of a new variant of Covid 19 in the UK.

But the Road Hauliers Assocation has said this may change when traffic increases after the New Year break. The UK has stopped following EU rules and new arrangements for travel, trade, immigration and security co-operation come into force.

Boris Johnson said the UK had "freedom in our hands" and the ability to do things "differently and better" now the long Brexit process was over.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
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pPicture: Paul Grover/Daily Telegraph/PA (43740984) Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: Paul Grover/Daily Telegraph/PA (43740984)

He added: "This is an amazing moment for our country.

It is up to us to make the most of it."

Lorries queue to be the first to leave the UK after Brexit Lorries queue to be the first to leave the UK after Brexit

The PM added: "I think it will be the overwhelming instinct of the people of this country to come together as one United Kingdom working together to express our values around the world." French President Emmanuel Macron said the UK remained a "friend and ally". Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage tweeted: "This is a big moment for our country, a giant leap forward."

A lorry driver arrives in Dover at the port amid media attention A lorry driver arrives in Dover at the port amid media attention

HGV drivers attempting to enter France now need to take a Covid test at Manston before continuing to Dover.

Lorries weighing more than 7.5 tonnes also need a special pass called a Kent Access Permit to leave the country via the main channel ports. They give lorries a 24-hour pass to enter Kent before using the Channel Tunnel or ferry services. Although there are no delays so far, ministers, councils and trade bodies have warned the situation may change in coming days as firms exporting to Europe get to grips with new legislation.

Lorries queue to be the first to leave the UK after Brexit Lorries queue to be the first to leave the UK after Brexit

Rod McKenzie, head of policy at the Road Hauliers Association, said: "There are two types of chaos which may ensure over the coming weeks.

"We could have the kind of visible chaos we had before Christmas with queues of lorries for miles, or we could have invisible chaos with lorries simply not leaving their distribution centres because their paperwork has not been processed online. "But it will be a few days yet before we are able to guess what's really happening. No-one really works on New Year's Day, which is why we don't expect miles of queues straight away.

Things will pick up from Monday onwards and my best guess is we may start experiencing some sort of disruption then - which could go on for three months while we smooth out the wrinkles." Kent County Council also warned: "The rules for doing business with Europe have changed. It may take longer to process traffic leaving the UK, causing delays in passing through the border controls."

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