EuroTunnel boss insists Channel crossings ‘will work well’ on New Year’s Day

The boss of EuroTunnel operator Getlink has today insisted Channel crossings ‘will work well’ on New Year’s Day – with the new Brexit trade rules coming into force overnight.

The new rules from Britain’s deal with the EU will come into play at 11pm on New Year’s Eve, after a historic trade deal was struck on Christmas Eve and approved last night by Parliament.

But amid warnings by hauliers and ministers of potential chaos at the border, and following on from the Kent lorry crisis over Christmas, John Keefe, director of Getlink, said he was ‘confident that it will work well on 1 January’.

He told the BBC that good preparation, lower-than-normal-traffic this year, as well as a temporary suspension of most customs checks would help traffic to keep flowing.

Mr Keefe said: ‘Things will start slowly. 1 January will be a quiet Bank Holiday after New Year’s Eve.

The new rules from Britain's deal with the EU will officially begin at 11pm on New Year's Eve, after a historic trade deal was struck on Christmas Eve and approved last night by Parliament. Pictured: The border at Folkestone, Kent

The new rules from Britain's deal with the EU will officially begin at 11pm on New Year's Eve, after a historic trade deal was struck on Christmas Eve and approved last night by Parliament. Pictured: The border at Folkestone, Kent

The new rules from Britain’s deal with the EU will officially begin at 11pm on New Year’s Eve, after a historic trade deal was struck on Christmas Eve and approved last night by Parliament. Pictured: The border at Folkestone, Kent

‘I don’t think traffic will build up until late in the first or second week of January.’

‘This initial quiet period will allow everyone to prepare.’

His comments come after an outbreak of a mutant strain of Covid-19 in the south-east of England sparked a border crisis at Christmas.  

Mr Keefe said: 'Things will start slowly. 1 January will be a quiet Bank Holiday after New Year's Eve.

Mr Keefe said: 'Things will start slowly. 1 January will be a quiet Bank Holiday after New Year's Eve.

Mr Keefe said: ‘Things will start slowly. 1 January will be a quiet Bank Holiday after New Year’s Eve.

Thousands of lorries were left stranded in Kent over the festive season when France dramatically slammed shut its border with the UK due to concerns over the new variant – which experts believe could be 70 per cent more effective at spreading.

France demanded drivers be tested before making the crossing, creating a huge backlog of lorries on the M20 – as Highways chiefs activated emergency travel plan Operation Stack.

Operation Brock – the UK’s emergency travel plan in the event of delays due to a No Deal Brexit – was also implemented. The plan saw thousands of lorries diverted to Manston Airfield in Kent.

The site became a huge lorry park over Christmas, as thousands of drivers waited for a test before being allowed to cross the border. 

But hauliers have warned disruption could be sparked again when the new UK-EU trade rules come into play. 

Hauliers in Britain taking goods to the EU and Northern Ireland will need new paperwork from 11pm tonight. 

The government warned those without correct documentation would be stopped.

Hauliers in Britain taking goods to the EU and Northern Ireland will need new paperwork from 11pm tonight. The government warned those without correct documentation would be stopped. Pictured: Lorries at the Port of Dover on December 29

Hauliers in Britain taking goods to the EU and Northern Ireland will need new paperwork from 11pm tonight. The government warned those without correct documentation would be stopped. Pictured: Lorries at the Port of Dover on December 29

Hauliers in Britain taking goods to the EU and Northern Ireland will need new paperwork from 11pm tonight. The government warned those without correct documentation would be stopped. Pictured: Lorries at the Port of Dover on December 29

A spokesperson said: ‘To minimise disruption, hauliers without the correct documentation in place should not move goods across the EU border from 1 January as they will be stopped and their goods held.’

But the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has warned there could be teething problems due to the new regulatory checks at the border. 

Meanwhile, Rob Holliman, the director of Youngs Transport and Logistics, based in Purfleet in Essex told the BBC that he would not run any of its lorries in the first week of January to avoid disruption.

He said: ‘I can’t afford to have my vehicles delayed.

‘We didn’t think that the risk of joining a queue that was two miles long in either direction was a risk worth taking.’

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