Raab’s admission he had not realised Dover to Calais importance criticised

Brexit secretary said he had not quite understood the full extent of reliance on crossing

 Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) Dominic Raab arrives a cabinet meeting in central London. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) Dominic Raab arrives a cabinet meeting in central London. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

 

Britain’s Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has been criticised for admitting he had not realised the importance of the Dover to Calais crossing to UK trade.

Alastair Campbell, former spokesman for Labour prime minister Tony Blair described it as “mindblowing”.

The remarks made at an event on Brexit and the tech industry on Wednesday were reported by Jack Blanchard of Politico.

According to Politico, Mr Raab told the event that customers would have less choice in shops unless the frictionless border was maintained and he had not realised how important the crossing was.

“I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.

“And that is one of the reasons why we have wanted to make sure we have a specific and very proximate relationship with the EU, to ensure frictionless trade at the border ... I don’t think it is a question so much of the risk of major shortages, but I think probably the average consumer might not be aware of the full extent to which the choice of goods that we have in the stores are dependent on one or two very specific trade routes.

The British government fears that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, new customs controls in France could create a bottleneck on the Dover-Calais route.

In recent weeks the British cabinet was told that plans are being drawn up to charter ships to bring in emergency supplies of food and medicines if there is no deal on Brexit and warned that the Dover-Calais route could become blocked by new customs controls on the French side.

Physicist and broadcaster Prof Brian Cox said: “How could it possibly come as a suprise to Dominic Raab that our most important trade gateway is that which is closest geographically to our most important market?”.

Will Straw, formerly executive director of the Britain Stronger in Europe, campaign tweeted “ Hi @DominicRaab - would it not have been better if you’d done your homework before backing Leave?”