Calais fears being sunk by looming ‘hard Brexit’

By Elisa Perrigueur

British Prime Minister Theresa May was in Brussels on Thursday and Friday for a frantic series of meetings to convince EU leaders to provide clarifications over her Brexit deal with Brussels, hoping for their help to obtain parliamentary approval of the agreement reached last month for the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc. But for most observers, the chances of avoiding a hard Brexit before the deadline of next March are receding by the day. In the northern French coastal town of Calais, through which tens of millions of tonnes of goods pass yearly in trade between the UK and the continent, many fear catastrophic consequences of a hard Brexit, with the very likely prospect of the Channel port becoming paralysed. Elisa Perrigueur reports.

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Sylvain, 54, has been driving freight trucks from northern France to Britain via the port of Calais for 28 years. When Mediapart joined him one morning, the day had still not lifted as he chugged along the “autoroute des anglais”, more formally the A26 motorway, which carves a line through the north-east corner of France, surrounded by fields of beetroot and wind turbines.