When the British government was negotiating the reopening of the border with Paris at various levels, hundreds of truck drivers, but also many European visitors, looked into the unknown on Tuesday. According to the Home Office, at least 1,500 trucks waited in Kent on Tuesday night to continue. How many Europeans two days ago Christmas stuck in the UK is unclear. The London “SPD Circle of Friends” accused the federal government of “ignoring” the fate of Germans in Great Britain. They have once again become the “unobserved plaything of politics”.
Minister of the Interior Priti Patel confirmed on Tuesday that negotiations with France are primarily being held on how the border could be reopened with local corona tests. Because of the associated logistics, travelers could be prevented from crossing the border for days even if an agreement was reached quickly.
“Unfortunately that doesn’t look good.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson had spread the hope at a press conference on Monday evening that the situation would clear up “in the next few hours”. He reported an “excellent phone conversation” with French President Emmanuel Macron. Transport Minister Grant Shapps had previously been “surprised” by the border closure, and Johnson also disguised his irritation in diplomatic words. “I would like to stress that in the UK we fully understand our friends’ fears about the new Covid mutation, but it is also true that we really appreciate the danger posed by a driver sitting alone in his cabin keep it low. “
In parts of the British press, the lack of understanding about the abrupt border closure was expressed more bluntly. A columnist threw Macron Populism and a “Trump-like” approach. Others drew attention to the fact that the mutated virus had long since arrived on the continent. Even the German virologist Christian Drosten was brought into the field as a witness against the border closure and the landing bans for aircraft from Great Britain. Drosten had initially expressed “not very worried” about the virus mutation on Monday and questioned Johnson’s finding that it was 70 percent more contagious. At night tweeted Drosten then however: “New data on the mutant. Unfortunately that doesn’t look good. “
Did Johnson speak to von der Leyen?
In some articles, the European, especially French, measures were put in connection with the Brexit talks. “It is less surprising than disappointing that stubborn partners in these negotiations have now discovered a suitable opportunity to pull the drawbridge up,” said a comment in the Daily Telegraph.
It is unclear whether – and if, in what way – the British-French crisis talks about opening the border influenced the Brexit negotiations. Johnson assured that he had not spoken to Macron about the negotiations because they were “rightly” being conducted with Brussels. But after the phone call, there were increasing signs that a compromise is nearing on the central dispute over fisheries. In the conflict over territorial waters and fishing quotas, French interests in particular met British resistance.
There was slight confusion on Tuesday about a conversation that EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is said to have had with Johnson on Monday evening, according to information from Brussels. In Downing Street it was said on Tuesday that they knew nothing of such a phone call. So far, London has stuck to the line that they are still striving for an agreement, but the British should rather be prepared for an unsuccessful outcome. If there were to be a “deal” on future relations with the European Union in the next few days, December 30th would be the most likely day in Westminster for a special session and a vote in parliament.