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More than 1,500 lorries stranded in UK, amid warning of food shortages over Christmas

Business Insider US
  • More than 1,500 lorries were stranded in Kent, England on Tuesday morning.
  • The number was far higher than what Boris Johnson claimed on Monday — and it is set to get bigger.
  • Britain's borders are in crisis after France banned all UK travellers — including hauliers — from entering.
  • It has quickly led to a pile up of HGVs in Britain, with the UK government providing food and toilet facilities to lorry drivers stuck on England's motorway waiting for the Channel crossing to re-open.
  • Tesco and Sainsbury's have said that certain fruit and vegetables will be in short supply over Christmas.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Over 1,500 lorries were stuck in the county of Kent on Tuesday morning as Britain's border with the European Union remained largely closed - far more than Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed there were during his press conference on Monday afternoon.

Priti Patel, the UK Home Secretary, this morning told BBC Radio 4 that there were 650 HGVs parked up on the M20 motorway waiting to reach the Port of Dover, and 873 at an airport in Manston which is being used as a lorry park.

However, Johnson yesterday said that the number of HGVs parked on the motorway had been reduced to just 174.

The prime minister's claim flummoxed British business and logistics groups.

James Withers of Scotland Food & Drink, a trade body representing many businesses whose trade with the EU has been disrupted, said "nothing" he heard from Johnson "bore any resemblance to what we've been dealing with & hearing today," while ITV reported that sources close to the Port of Dover and the Eurotunnel were "baffled."

Highways England shortly before 11pm last night released a statement saying that over 900 lorries were parked on the M20 at that point.

There is chaos at Britain's borders after Emmanuel Macron's French government took the drastic step of banning UK travellers - including hauliers transporting goods - from crossing the English Channel to France, in order to contain the spread of a highly-infectious, new variant of the coronavirus discovered in the south of England.

Congestion in Kent is only set to get worse today and could spread beyond the county's borders, with ITV's Robert Peston reporting that the Eurotunnel expected 2,000 lorries to arrive in the UK on Tuesday, but none to leave.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Johnson on Monday told Business Insider that the UK government was giving "welfare provisions" including toilet facilities and food & drink to lorry drivers stuck on the motorway.

ITV's Joel Hills tweeted footage of lorries parked up on the M20 last night.

The impact of the border shutdown on UK trade is two-fold: firstly, British exporters to the EU cannot get products to their customers on the continent and secondly, EU trucks bringing goods like food and drink into the UK are not making the journey across the English Channel as they want to avoid being stranded in Britain.

The latter has triggered concerns of potential shortages of certain foods in British supermarkets - specifically perishable fruit and vegetables that the UK imports from the EU in high numbers at this time of year.

Tesco yesterday said that "there may be reduced supply on a few fresh items, such as lettuce, cauliflower and citrus fruit later this week, but we don't expect any problems with availability on these lines today or tomorrow." A spokesperson for Sainsbury's told Business Insider that the supermarket expected to "see gaps over the coming days" on lettuce, some salad leaves, cauliflowers, broccoli and citrus fruit.

However, both supermarkets and the rest of the UK food and drink industry have urged Brits not to panic buy, stressing that they have built up enough stock to get through the Christmas period without goods running out.

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