Covid crisis at ports justifies Brexit pause amid food shortage fears – The Yorkshire Post says

THERE was always a strong possibility that there would be long queues of lorries and freight traffic heading to and from Channel ports like Dover over the festive period.

However the expectation was that they would, potentially, occur over the New Year in the event of a no-deal Brexit rather than the days leading up to Christmas amid growing alarm about the spread of a highly contagious strain of Covid-19 that could overwhelm the NHS.

But the delays – and their impact on the distribution of fresh food and other goods at one of the busiest times of the year for hauliers – offer a vivid illustration of Britain and Europe’s inter-dependability.

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And it is still to be hoped, even now, that the disruption – and growing alarm on both sides of the English Channel – actually unlock trade talks between the Government and European Union so that a post-Brexit deal can be struck without causing unnecessary disruption to a recession-hit economy.

Police and port staff at the Port of Dover in Kent which has been closed after the French government's announcement it will not accept any passengers arriving from the UK for the next 48 hours amid fears over the new mutant coronavirus strain.

Of course, this will require the EU to moderate some of its more unreasonable demands, notably those pertaining to fishing and sovereignty. It will also need Boris Johnson, and those advising the forlorn-looking and Covid-fatigued Prime Minister, to show the statecraft that most people expect of them.

Their duty is to lead the whole country, not just the hard-line European Research Group of ideologue Brexiteer MPs, and now is not the time to be compromising food supplies and, crucially, distribution of Covid vaccines by raising the Brexit stakes still further.

With both sides suggesting that progress has been made in recent days, a three-month extension to the current transition arrangements would make sense for both sides – and all those businesses even more uncertain about the future following Brexit and Covid’s confluence at the end of such a difficult year.

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Lorries parked on the M20 near Folkestone, Kent, as part of Operation Stack after the Port of Dover was closed and access to the Eurotunnel terminal suspended following the French government's announcement that it will not accept any passengers arriving from the UK for the next 48 hours amid fears over the new mutant coronavirus strain.