// The BRC urges government to find solution as France closes borders to UK
// France travel ban to UK is expected to last 48 hours from 00:01 on Monday
// Prime Minister Boris Johnson to hold urgent COBRA meeting today regarding closures
Prime minister Boris Johnson will hold an urgent COBRA meeting today after the UK’s border with France closed on Sunday night.
The Eurotunnel said it had suspended access to the Folkestone terminal on Sunday due to the mutant strain of coronavirus prompting stricter measures for UK-bound flights.
The travel ban with France is expected to last 48 hours from midnight on Sunday.
The restrictions will add to concern over imports from France with the end of the Brexit transition period just days away.
“The closure of France to UK traffic, including accompanied freight poses difficulties for UK capacity to import and export key goods during the busy Christmas period. While goods can enter from France, few haulage firms will be willing to send trucks and drivers across to the UK without a guarantee they can return to the EU in a timely manner,” British Retail Consortium director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie said.
“This is a key supply route for fresh produce at this time of year: the channel crossings see 10,000 trucks passing daily during peak periods such as in the run up to Christmas.
“We urge the UK Government and the EU to find a pragmatic solution to this as soon as possible, to prevent disruption for consumers. Retailers have stocked up on goods ahead of Christmas which should prevent immediate problems. However, any prolonged closure of the French border would be a problem as the UK enters the final weeks before the transition ends on 31 December,” Opie added.
Last week the BRC and Food and Drink Federation called on MPs to investigate the congestion at container ports caused by demand for products over Christmas and the end of the Brexit transition period.
In a joint letter to the chairs of the Commons Transport Select Committee and the Commons International Trade Committee, they wrote that some shipping costs have more than doubled compared with last year.
The BRC and FDF want the committees to hold an inquiry into the chaos at ports and the functioning of the shipping market, arguing that consumers “will pay the final price” for the congestions.