Another 800 military personnel are sent to help test 4,000 drivers stuck in Kent on Christmas Day


Thousands of international lorry drivers were spending Christmas Day in their cabs in Kent today as the military was sent in as part of Operation Rose to help clear the blacklog of stranded drivers and return hauliers to their home countries.

Hundreds of soldiers have been deployed as part of the repatriation operation in Kent after French Covid-19 restrictions temporarily banning UK freight caused severe disruption at the Port of Dover.

The French are demanding a negative Covid test from lorry drivers before they are allowed to cross the border after introducing a travel ban on Sunday following the discovery of a fast-spreading mutant Covid-19 strain in the UK.

Around 1,100 British military personnel have been sent to Kent as part of Operation Rose to help perform Covid tests, marhsal traffic, distribute food and organise welfare facilities to 5,000 waiting lorry drivers.    

Traffic was moving smoothly through the port on Friday morning, with 30 French firefighters also sent in to help the military test drivers for coronavirus. The Polish defence minister said their country would also send 60 territorial army soldiers.

James Heappey MP, Minister for the Armed Forces, called it a ‘fantastic international effort’ in a tweet on Christmas Eve. 

More than 700 hauliers have been cleared for departure since France reopened its border on Wednesday – and a chorus of beeping horns sounded at Dover on Christmas Eve as those at the front of the queue celebrated finally being able to leave.

However, some 5,000 remain unable to get home yet, despite some progress made in testing drivers holed up in their vehicles at nearby Manston Airport, a disused airbase that has been turned into a temporary truck park, on a closed section of the M20, and in the town of Dover itself. 

Many stranded drivers are now spending Christmas stuck in their truck cabs. Pictured: The M20 this morning on Christmas Day

A mother and child wearing Christmas hats look at the line of trucks parked up on the M20, part of Operation Stack in Ashford, Kent

A mother and child wearing Christmas hats look at the line of trucks parked up on the M20, part of Operation Stack in Ashford, Kent

There are still thousands of lorries parked on the old runway at the disused Manston airport (pictured on Christmas Day) as the truckers wait for Covid tests. Some 5,000 remain unable to get home , despite some progress made in testing drivers holed up in their vehicles (pictured, the airfield slowly emptying)

There are still thousands of lorries parked on the old runway at the disused Manston airport (pictured on Christmas Day) as the truckers wait for Covid tests. Some 5,000 remain unable to get home , despite some progress made in testing drivers holed up in their vehicles (pictured, the airfield slowly emptying)

Thousands wait to resume their journey across The Channel as Covid tests are administered by an international taskforce

Thousands wait to resume their journey across The Channel as Covid tests are administered by an international taskforce 

Some drivers have already spent nearly a week stranded at Manston (pictured on Christmas Day) due to the diplomatic impasse after the French closed their borders

Some drivers have already spent nearly a week stranded at Manston (pictured on Christmas Day) due to the diplomatic impasse after the French closed their borders 

Some have already spent nearly a week stranded due to the diplomatic impasse.

Southeastern Railway and Network Rail arranged for food to be delivered to lorry drivers stuck in Operation Brock on the M20. Seven trains carrying crates of food for the hauliers have left London in the past 48 hours, with the Salvation Army distributing the items. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘We need to get the situation in Kent, caused by the French Government’s sudden imposition of Covid restrictions, resolved as soon as possible.

‘I have today sent special instructions to the Army to take control of testing and HGV management operations in the county. Our aim is to get foreign hauliers home with their families as quickly as we can.

‘I know it’s been hard for many drivers cooped up in their cabs at this precious time of year, but I assure them that we are doing our utmost to get them home.’

The Department for Transport (DfT) said all but three of the 2,367 coronavirus tests issued to hauliers have been negative – a stipulation of travel introduced by French authorities.  

Around 800 British military personnel have been sent to Kent help perform Covid tests, distrubute food and organise welfare facilities for the stranded truckers

Around 800 British military personnel have been sent to Kent help perform Covid tests, distrubute food and organise welfare facilities for the stranded truckers

The additional manpower means there are now 1,100 soliders part of the effort to clear the 4,000 lorries waiting to drive to the Continent

The additional manpower means there are now 1,100 soliders part of the effort to clear the 4,000 lorries waiting to drive to the Continent

The French are demanding a negative Covid test from lorry drivers before they are allowed to cross the border after introducing a travel ban

The French are demanding a negative Covid test from lorry drivers before they are allowed to cross the border after introducing a travel ban

Thousands wait to resume their journey across The Channel after the borders with France reopened this week, but many did not make it across the Channel in time for Christmas

James Heappey MP, Minister for the Armed Forces, tweeted that 30 French firefighters and 60 Polish soldiers would join the military taskforce

Thousands wait to resume their journey across The Channel after the borders with France reopened this week, but many did not make it across the Channel in time for Christmas. On December 24, Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey MP, tweeted that 30 French firefighters and 60 Polish soldiers would join the military taskforce

The Government said catering vans would provide complementary hot food and drinks to stranded hauliers at Manston, with Kent Council and volunteer groups providing refreshments to those stuck on the M20.

There are more than 250 toilets at Manston, with a further 32 portable toilets added to existing facilities already along the M20.

A Port of Dover spokesman said ferry services had run throughout Christmas Eve night and would continue on Christmas Day to help ease congestion.

Traffic was moving more quickly at the Eurotunnel, with around 2,000 lorries expected to depart on Thursday.

Duncan Buchanan, a policy director at the Road Haulage Association, said: ‘The most reassuring thing is that food is getting through at Manston, and I have to say a big thank you to everyone who volunteered to help drivers stick it out in cold conditions in the days leading up to Christmas.’   

Drivers were seen on the motorway this morning coming out of their cabs to enjoy Christmas Day with other stranded drivers

Drivers were seen on the motorway this morning coming out of their cabs to enjoy Christmas Day with other stranded drivers

Drivers walk on the motorway on Christmas Day as their trucks are parked up on the M20, with more arriving to join the queue

Drivers walk on the motorway on Christmas Day as their trucks are parked up on the M20, with more arriving to join the queue

British testers yesterday found just three Covid cases among more then 2,300 drivers swabbed on Christmas Eve. 

It has been a fraught week in the southern county – home to Britain’s key Dover port – after an estimated 10,000 truckers were caught up in the chaos. 

It comes after French president Emmanuel Macron ordered the border with the UK to shut on Saturday following the detection of a new virulent strain of coronavirus in Britain.

Thousands of hauliers were parked up at the disused Marston airport, while hundreds more lined the M20 as part of Operation Stack. All were waiting for a negative test result before they can make their way to the continent. 

Kent villagers yesterday helped feed stranded truck drivers lined up along the motorway by lowering bags of food to them from bridges. 

People from Mersham, near Ashford, used rope and shopping bags to deliver goods including beans, fruit and sweets to stranded lorry drivers waiting for Covid tests.   

Kind-hearted volunteers from the Kent village of Faversham also delivered essential items to the truckers still stranded at Marston airport.

Kent villagers are helping feed stranded truck drivers lined up along the motorway by lowering bags of food to them from bridges

They are using rope and shopping bags to deliver goods including beans, fruit and sweets to stranded lorry drivers waiting for Covid tests

Kent villagers are helping feed stranded truck drivers lined up along the motorway by lowering bags of food to them from bridges. They are using rope and shopping bags to deliver goods including beans, fruit and sweets to stranded lorry drivers waiting for Covid tests

Villagers lower food from M20 bridges near Ashford to truckers stuck in Operation Stack as Domino's deliver pizza

Villagers lower food from M20 bridges near Ashford to truckers stuck in Operation Stack as Domino’s deliver pizza

Hundreds of hauliers are lined on the M20 as part of Operation Stack waiting for a negative test result before they can make their way to the continent

Hundreds of hauliers are lined on the M20 as part of Operation Stack waiting for a negative test result before they can make their way to the continent

People from Faversham are among the Kent locals who have rallied to help the stranded truck drivers who are waiting to be allowed to cross into France in order to travel home

People from Faversham are among the Kent locals who have rallied to help the stranded truck drivers who are waiting to be allowed to cross into France in order to travel home

The volunteers delivered essential items like toilet roll and water bottles. Villagers from Mersham also delivered food to drivers on the motorway by lowering parcels from the motorway bridge

The volunteers delivered essential items like toilet roll and water bottles. Villagers from Mersham also delivered food to drivers on the motorway by lowering parcels from the motorway bridge

Hundreds of hauliers are lined on the M20 as part of Operation Stack waiting for a negative  Covid test result before they can make their way to the continent

French firefighters (pictured) armed with 10,000 testing kits have joined the effort to get thousands of stranded lorry drivers across the Channel today, with up to 6,000 lorries now stacked up in Kent

French firefighters (pictured) armed with 10,000 testing kits have joined the effort to get thousands of stranded lorry drivers across the Channel today, with up to 6,000 lorries now stacked up in Kent

Water bottles, toilet roll and snacks were among the essntial supplies passed to the waiting drivers through the airports perimeter fence. 

Mersham residents Jan and David James also walked down the carriageway between ranks of parked up trucks to hand out food on Christmas Eve. The pair climbed over a barrier walked down a set of steps on the embankment to reach the road.

Jackie and Peter Bates have also stepped in to spread Christmas cheer among the drivers.

Mrs James, 69, a former teacher told Kent Online: ‘We went round knocking on doors in Mersham asking if people had any spare food and they have been brilliant. They gave us lots of food in bags and we then took it to the bridges.

‘We have had tins of beans, orange juice, fruit, biscuits, crisps and corn beef – anything the lorry drivers could eat with their fingers but I think most of them have cutlery anyway.

‘A lot of the drivers were asking us how far away Tesco was and many of them were walking to the supermarket.

‘We ran out of food in the end but we could have gone on and on – it was just something we felt we had to do for the poor blokes.

Drivers came to accept the donations at the perimiter fence at the disused Marston airport, which has been turned into a temporary truck stop since the French border closed

Drivers came to accept the donations at the perimiter fence at the disused Marston airport, which has been turned into a temporary truck stop since the French border closed

These volunteers from Faversham are one of many Kent locals who rallied to give the locals a festive gift ahead of Christmas Day

These volunteers from Faversham are one of many Kent locals who rallied to give the locals a festive gift ahead of Christmas Day

British testers attempting to clear a 6,000-strong backlog of lorries queuing up to cross into France have found just three Covid cases among the 2,364 drivers swabbed so far

Drivers still stranded in Dover spelt out 'help' using traffic cones after days of waiting in Kent

Drivers still stranded in Dover spelt out ‘help’ using traffic cones after days of waiting in Kent

Hot curries prepared for the truckers

Meals were cooked by volunteers

A Sikh charity in kent prepared hot meals including curries (pictured) and pasta dishes to hand out to the desperate truckers on Tuesday and Wednesday 

A group of 26 firefighters from the continent have joined the testing effort, personally administering the swabs to lorry drivers after President Emmanuel Macron demanded truckers be swabbed before being allowed to cross the Channel

A group of 26 firefighters from the continent have joined the testing effort, personally administering the swabs to lorry drivers after President Emmanuel Macron demanded truckers be swabbed before being allowed to cross the Channel

Unlike the the French firefighters, the British testing teams are passing over the swabs for lorry drivers to self-administer - a method which is considered less effective

Unlike the the French firefighters, the British testing teams are passing over the swabs for lorry drivers to self-administer – a method which is considered less effective

It comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today announced ferries and Eurostar services between Dover and Calais will run over Christmas in a bid to end the backlog. He said last night he hoped backlog could be fixed 'by New Year'

It comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today announced ferries and Eurostar services between Dover and Calais will run over Christmas in a bid to end the backlog. He said last night he hoped backlog could be fixed ‘by New Year’

The drivers have been stranded on the M20 in Kent, at nearby Manston Airport (pictured) or in and around the streets of Dover after the travel ban, imposed by France after the identification of a new Covid strain in south-east England

The drivers have been stranded on the M20 in Kent, at nearby Manston Airport (pictured) or in and around the streets of Dover after the travel ban, imposed by France after the identification of a new Covid strain in south-east England

A driver checks his COVID-19 lateral flow test at the Port of Dover, Kent, where thousands are waiting to resume their journey across The Channel after the borders with France reopened

A driver checks his COVID-19 lateral flow test at the Port of Dover, Kent, where thousands are waiting to resume their journey across The Channel after the borders with France reopened

Members of the British army help travellers to use covid-19 self-testing kits close to the entrance to the Port of Dover

Members of the British army help travellers to use covid-19 self-testing kits close to the entrance to the Port of Dover

The swab tests have to be administered by inserting a swab into person's nose. French officials are carrying the tests out themselves, but UK workers are giving the tests to drivers to self-administer

The swab tests have to be administered by inserting a swab into person’s nose. French officials are carrying the tests out themselves, but UK workers are giving the tests to drivers to self-administer

Lorries queue on the M20 motorway to enter the Port of Dover following the closure of the French border on Sunday. Around 2,000 are said to be on the motorway

Lorries queue on the M20 motorway to enter the Port of Dover following the closure of the French border on Sunday. Around 2,000 are said to be on the motorway

Wojtek Golawski, pictured, said he was going to have to spend the peak of the festive season in his lorry cab stuck on the A20 in Dover rather than with his family in Lukow in Poland

Wojtek Golawski, pictured, said he was going to have to spend the peak of the festive season in his lorry cab stuck on the A20 in Dover rather than with his family in Lukow in Poland

Police officers and lorry drivers congregate at the entrance to the Port of Dover last night as testing got underway

Police officers and lorry drivers congregate at the entrance to the Port of Dover last night as testing got underway

Military personnel helping to take samples from drivers parked in the Port of Dover in Kent in a bid to get them moving again

Military personnel helping to take samples from drivers parked in the Port of Dover in Kent in a bid to get them moving again

The Army has been drafted in to help this evening after as few as 200 tests an hour were carried out in Kent yesterday

The Army has been drafted in to help this evening after as few as 200 tests an hour were carried out in Kent yesterday

One THOUSAND Dominos pizzas are delivered to stranded truckers who face Christmas alone in Kent

A group of Sikh volunteers have tried to the raise the spirits of lorry drivers stranded in Kent with a delivery of 1,000 Domino’s pizzas amid the ongoing border chaos.

Thousands of foreign drivers are likely to spend Christmas stuck in the UK as the Government has indicated queues will not move for at least another 24 hours.

Volunteers from Khalsa Aid coordinated the deliveries yesterday having already provided hundreds of chickpea curries to the stranded motorists a day earlier.

Sikh volunteers from Khalsa Aid and Domino's Pizza workers stand outside the branch in Sittingbourne, Kent, in preparation to deliver the fresh pizzas to stranded lorry drivers

Sikh volunteers from Khalsa Aid and Domino’s Pizza workers stand outside the branch in Sittingbourne, Kent, in preparation to deliver the fresh pizzas to stranded lorry drivers

The volunteers from Maidenhead travelled over 80 miles to help out, while some of the group’s Langar Aid members journeyed more than 150 miles from Coventry.

Volunteers from the Guru Nanak Darbar temple in Gravesend cooked the meals, while staff from the Salvation Army’s South East Division were also helping to deliver food. Ramsgate Football Club was involved too, delivering 200 pizzas to the drivers.

Ravinder Singh, founder of Khalsa Aid which is based in Maidenhead, said: ‘We in Sikhism, we have the concept of langar, which means community kitchen.

‘We are British Sikhs and the least we can do is to practise our seasonal goodwill: two days from Christmas we have people on our soil who are homeward bound and do not know what is happening.’

‘When we went back up the steps onto the bridge, a whole group of them clapped us – it was quite emotional.’

Mrs James has lived in Mersham for 35 years and says residents regularly see drivers using the village as a rat-run to avoid queues on the A20.

The grandmother of five said: ‘There was a language barrier – all most of them could say was ‘very, very thank you’ but some of the French and Spanish I could pick up.

‘Many of them just smiled and put their hands together to say thank you – it was wonderful.’

Mrs James praised the community saying it was a ‘typical English village with a fantastic community spirit’. 

The villagers’ actions have been part of a wider effort to feed the desperate drivers this week. 

On the M20, Kent County Council (KCC), with the help of Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) partners and organisations including the Salvation Army, aid agency Khalsa Aid and South East Water, provided drivers with hot food, sandwich meal bags and drinking water. 

A number of food donations from South East catering companies are also being transported by Network Rail to Ashford train station and distributed by KRF partner the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Several supermarkets and businesses, including Greggs, Lidl and the Imperial Hotel at Hythe have also made donations.

As part of KCC efforts to make sure people in the traffic management system Operation Brock are being cared for, a further 32 portable toilets have also been installed between junctions 10a and 11, adding to the portaloos provided on Monday at 1km intervals along this stretch of motorway. Toilets are being cleaned at 12-hour intervals.

While traffic queues will ease as drivers meet France’s COVID-19 testing requirements and are cleared for onward travel via either the Port of Dover or Channel tunnel, it remains important people avoid travelling to Kent while the disruption continues.

KCC Leader Roger Gough said: ‘The kindness and humanity shown by people who have rallied to provide welfare for those caught up in delays at the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel is amazing.

‘I would like to thank all those who are coming forward to help, including charities, businesses, voluntary groups and, of course, our own driver welfare teams.

‘The situation should now improve steadily as drivers secure negative COVID-19 test results and are able to continue their journeys into France by ferry or freight train. I have, however, deep sympathy for those for whom this will come too late to spend Christmas with their families.

‘I would also like to thank Kent communities for their support and understanding during what has been an extremely challenging time and hope the knowledge that the disruption will continue to ease is some welcome good news.’ 

It came after authorities faced criticism for the treatment of the stranded drivers and the conditons at Marston airfield.

Industry bosses branded the treatment of the stranded truckers ‘a disgrace’ earlier this week.

Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association said: ‘They’re going to give drivers two litres of water every day. 

‘We need to ensure that drivers have got sufficient food and water. 

‘Kent County Council were giving cereal bars yesterday morning which was not enough.

He added: ‘Bearing in mind the government has been trying to prepare for transition which is in eight days time, you would’ve expected these plans to be well rehearsed.

‘It’s an absolute disgrace that they’re not well prepared at all. It’s a scenario that could’ve happened in the case of no-deal.’

Andik Jozsef, 47, from Csokonyavisonta in Hungary is parked more than a mile from the front of the queue at Dover

Driver Andik Jozsef as told wife Bernadett, 46, son Daniel (pictured together), 22, and daughter Kristof, 15 that he won't be coming home for Christmas

Andik Jozsef (left), 47, from Csokonyavisonta in Hungary is parked more than a mile from the front of the queue at Dover. He has told wife Bernadett, 46, son Daniel (right, together), 22, and daughter Kristof, 15 that he won’t be home for Christmas

Ivo Ivic, 57, who is transporting chemicals used in building foam from Runcorn in Cheshire to Slovenia

Ivo Ivic had planned a Christmas meal with wife Ankica, 56, son Jure, 37, and daughter Sama (pictured together), 38 at home in Vrhnika, Slovenia

Ivo Ivic (left), 57, who is transporting chemicals used in building foam from Runcorn in Cheshire to Slovenia, had been looking forward to spending tomorrow with his grandsons Timotes, aged eight and two-year-old Lucian. He had planned a Christmas meal with wife Ankica (right), 56, son Jure, 37, and daughter Sama, 38 at home in Vrhnika, Slovenia

Lorry driver Doma Dumitru, 41, had been hoping to spend tomorrow

Doma Dumitru had been hoping to spend tomorrow with his wife Alina, 40, and their 12-year-old daughter Daria Maria (pictured, together) back home in Romania

Lorry driver Doma Dumitru (left), 41, had been hoping to spend tomorrow with his wife Alina, 40, and their 12-year-old daughter Daria Maria (right, together) back home at Oradea in north-west Romania. He has been stuck in Dover since Monday after France closed its border with Britain following the emergence of the new highly infectious strain of coronavirus

Lorry drivers stranded in Kent tell of heartache over missing Christmas 

Lorry drivers stranded in Kent for the past three days have told MailOnline of their heartache today at missing out on Christmas Day with their families amid the ongoing border chaos.

Thousands of drivers from countries including Hungary, Slovenia and Romania are likely to spend Christmas stuck in the UK after the Government indicated queues outside Dover will not move for at least another 24 hours.

Lorry driver Doma Dumitru, 41, had been hoping to spend tomorrow with his wife Alina, 40, and their 12-year-old daughter Daria Maria back home at Oradea in north-west Romania. He has been stuck in Dover since Monday after France closed its border with Britain following the emergence of the new highly infectious strain of coronavirus.

Mr Dumitru said: ‘Normally at Christmas time I’d be with my whole family, my wife, daughter, my mother, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews but this year I’m going to be trapped here in England.

‘It’s not good, not good at all but this is the perils of the job. I don’t want to be here sleeping in my lorry for a fourth night but there isn’t anything I can do. I miss my wife and daughter, I’ve spoken to them on the phone but it isn’t the same.

‘There’s no way that I will reach Romania on Christmas Day, I’ve already warned them about that. They know that this can happen with the type of work I do but it’s still very hard to be away from them at this time of year. 

Andik Jozsef, 47, from Rinvauilak in Hungary is parked more than a mile from the front of the queue at Dover. He has told wife Bernadett, 46, son Daniel, 22 and daughter Kristof, 15 that he won’t be coming home for Christmas.

Mr Jozsef, who is transporting steel from a factory in Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire to Hungary, said: There is no chance that I will get to see my family, there are 6,000 vehicles still to be tested and it’s Christmas Eve.

‘The testing is going very slowly, I thought it would be quicker, so I’m going to be in my lorry for Christmas Day, there’s no doubt about that.

‘I want to spend the festivities with my wife, son and daughter at home in comfort not here on a cold road filled with other lorries honking their horns all the time.

‘I think France is to blame – they are being awkward on purpose because of the Brexit negotiations with the UK but it’s us who are having to pay the price.’

Ivo Ivic, 57, who is transporting chemicals used in building foam from Runcorn in Cheshire to Slovenia, had been looking forward to spending tomorrow with his grandsons Timotes, aged eight and two-year-old Lucian.

He had planned a Christmas meal with wife Ankica, 56, son Jure, 37, and daughter Sama, 38 at home in Vrhnika, Slovenia.

But, shaking his head, Mr Ivic said: ‘There’s no way that I’m going to be able to see them until Christmas is over. Instead I’m going to still be here in my lorry only a little nearer to the port, the way things are going.

‘I was hoping to see my grandsons open their presents but it’s just not going to happen. Christmas is a time to be with your family but I’m going to be on my own this year. Hopefully I can get across to France as soon as possible and just get home before New Year.’

Trucker named John Christmas admits he’s likely to spend festive season in a lay-by 

Unlucky trucker John Christmas has admitted he will likely spend the festive season in his lorry parked in a lay-by.

The aptly-named Romanian driver will not make it home on Christmas Day as he cannot make it to Dover due to traffic problems.

He is currently parked at the side of Manston roundabout 18-miles from the port.

Unlucky trucker John Christmas has admitted he will likely spend the festive season in his lorry parked in a lay-by

Unlucky trucker John Christmas has admitted he will likely spend the festive season in his lorry parked in a lay-by

Mr Christmas transports water from Dover to Birmingham but has been unable to get near the Port due to the traffic gridlock as thousands of other drivers try to reach France to continue home.

He told Kent Live: ‘I will spend Christmas in my trailer, whether it’s at the side of this road or in a car park in Birmingham, that’s unavoidable now.

‘I don’t need a COVID test. I have been waiting for hours but they won’t let me go.

‘All I need to do is go to Dover to drop my truck and pick up another one, but I cannot go there.

‘After that I will need to back to Birmingham and then back home to Romania.’

Lorry drivers stranded in Kent tell of heartache over missing Christmas 

Lorry drivers stranded in Kent for the past three days have told MailOnline of their heartache today at missing out on Christmas Day with their families amid the ongoing border chaos.

Thousands of drivers from countries including Hungary, Slovenia and Romania are likely to spend Christmas stuck in the UK after the Government indicated queues outside Dover will not move for at least another 24 hours.

Lorry driver Doma Dumitru, 41, had been hoping to spend tomorrow with his wife Alina, 40, and their 12-year-old daughter Daria Maria back home at Oradea in north-west Romania. He has been stuck in Dover since Monday after France closed its border with Britain following the emergence of the new highly infectious strain of coronavirus.

Mr Dumitru said: ‘Normally at Christmas time I’d be with my whole family, my wife, daughter, my mother, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews but this year I’m going to be trapped here in England.

‘It’s not good, not good at all but this is the perils of the job. I don’t want to be here sleeping in my lorry for a fourth night but there isn’t anything I can do. I miss my wife and daughter, I’ve spoken to them on the phone but it isn’t the same.

‘There’s no way that I will reach Romania on Christmas Day, I’ve already warned them about that. They know that this can happen with the type of work I do but it’s still very hard to be away from them at this time of year. 

Andik Jozsef, 47, from Rinvauilak in Hungary is parked more than a mile from the front of the queue at Dover. He has told wife Bernadett, 46, son Daniel, 22 and daughter Kristof, 15 that he won’t be coming home for Christmas.

Mr Jozsef, who is transporting steel from a factory in Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire to Hungary, said: There is no chance that I will get to see my family, there are 6,000 vehicles still to be tested and it’s Christmas Eve.

‘The testing is going very slowly, I thought it would be quicker, so I’m going to be in my lorry for Christmas Day, there’s no doubt about that.

‘I want to spend the festivities with my wife, son and daughter at home in comfort not here on a cold road filled with other lorries honking their horns all the time.

‘I think France is to blame – they are being awkward on purpose because of the Brexit negotiations with the UK but it’s us who are having to pay the price.’

Ivo Ivic, 57, who is transporting chemicals used in building foam from Runcorn in Cheshire to Slovenia, had been looking forward to spending tomorrow with his grandsons Timotes, aged eight and two-year-old Lucian.

He had planned a Christmas meal with wife Ankica, 56, son Jure, 37, and daughter Sama, 38 at home in Vrhnika, Slovenia.

But, shaking his head, Mr Ivic said: ‘There’s no way that I’m going to be able to see them until Christmas is over. Instead I’m going to still be here in my lorry only a little nearer to the port, the way things are going.

‘I was hoping to see my grandsons open their presents but it’s just not going to happen. Christmas is a time to be with your family but I’m going to be on my own this year. Hopefully I can get across to France as soon as possible and just get home before New Year.’



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Lorry chaos in Kent as border crisis hinges on Covid tests dispute



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Peerages row | Boris Johnson has been accused of cronyism after overriding the Lords appointments watchdog to ennoble a former Tory party treasurer who was engulfed in a “cash for access” row. City tycoon Peter Cruddas, 67, is among 16 people awarded peerages in a list published by No 10 today, despite the vetting body having raised “historic concerns” over his ennoblement. Read on for details.





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Wayne Bennett, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Payne Haas fight, Game two, sin bin, newspaper headlines, Paul Kent, reaction


Fox League’s Paul Kent has savaged Queensland coach Wayne Bennett after the master coach took aim at newspaper headlines for causing the fight that lead to Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Payne Haas to be sin binned.

The Blues claimed a 34-10 victory over the Maroons to send the series to a decider but tempers flared in the 56th minute when Fa’asuamaleaui and Haas were marched for 10 minutes each after throwing punches.

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The Courier Mail’s back page pointed to the pair’s bad blood dating back to the Under-18’s State of Origin match three years ago with the now-20-year-old

The story said Fa‘asuamaleaui “verbally goaded Haas, challenging NSW’s biggest forward to run directly at him” in the duel, but later when Haas ran across field, the Queensland forward unloaded sledges.

“Tiny went hunting for Haas that night at Homebush and he sat him on his arse,” said Fa‘asuamaleaui’s manager Simon Mammino.

“Payne was the big dog at schoolboy level so Tino took him on — that’s the competitor he is.“

While there is bad blood between the pair, Bennett blamed the story for pushing the pair over the edge.

“I’d be concerned, it’s not what we want,” Bennett said. “I’ve worked with you guys for a long period of time so I know you’ll take no responsibility for it but that was a headline in Brisbane today, and wherever it came from, it was a headline in the paper, I didn’t read it all.

“They’re young men, they’re 20 years of age, both of them and headlines like that throws fuel onto the fire. I knew deep down there would be a blue here tonight between the pair of them and you won’t take responsibility for it but if that’s not a headline today, I don’t think that’s going to happen tonight.”

Daly Cherry-Evans looked like he took aim at Fa’asuamaleaui post-game but said you have to “back your players”.

A journalist went back to Bennett to clarify that he was blaming a headline in the newspaper and the Maroons coach doubled down.

“They both would have read the paper today and it stirs the emotion in them,” he said. “That’s my point. They’ve got to be responsible for their actions and I accept that as well, but you’re talking about 20-year-olds here.

“That fight didn’t come out of nowhere tonight, it was brewing this morning and I don’t know about the background as well. It’s easier to criticise them and they have to take responsibility for it but it’s the type of headline that young men just don’t handle and they didn’t handle it well either of them.”

Bennett said he didn’t speak to Fa’asuamaleaui before the game and said he “hoped it would blow over”.

The story Bennett was pointing to was a feud that was sparked three years ago when the pair were in Under-18 Origin as 17-year-olds with the pair trading verbal pleasantries.

But The Daily Telegraph’s Paul Kent was having none of it.

“Just ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous, Wayne is kidding himself,” he said. “This is a rivalry between these two kids who are 20-years-old. Wayne started to go the right way, they’re young men, they get carried away.

“The fact is it goes back to when they were schoolboys. They didn’t read something in the paper to realise they don’t like the other bloke. To suggest that they’ve read this story today …

“We continually get told from within camp that I didn’t see the story, I don’t read the papers. That’s half the problem with Origin, you’ve got to go around and find these stories outside of what’s going on between the teams because no one talks any more. So Peter Badel’s gone and found this story about these two guys who since schoolboys haven’t liked each other and have always gone after each other. To suggest this is the reason for this, it’s ridiculous.”

Michael Ennis said Fa’asuamaleaui beelining for Haas “suggests there’s some history there, that these two don’t like each other and that there’s a feud there”.

He said he thought it was fine.

But Kent continued.

“When there’s a bit of history between blokes, Benny Elias and Steve Walters, Paul Harrogan and Mark Carroll always went for each other when they played club football. You go back to the Greg Dowling and Blocker Roach days, they found each other. That happens, that’s why Origin was good. That’s why we celebrated it.

“He’s kidding himself. Wayne’s the number one supporter of this. He just doesn’t like the media now so he wants to get it off his chest. He’s kidding himself.”

He added: “We finally have a story that’s not about someone’s sick grandmother. It’s not bad for the game.

Cooper Cronk added that he thought it was “coaching card 101”.

“The headlines will be this for the next couple of days,” he said. “And his side’s just conceded six tries. For me, he’s got more issues than headlines causing problems.”



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Andrew Johns, Jahrome Hughes contract, John Bateman, Melbourne Storm, Paul Kent


A comment from Melbourne Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes’ manager has sparked fury from NRL Immortal Andrew Johns.

Earlier this week, Hughes’ manager Chris Orr told the Wide World of Sports on Tuesday that the versatile back would assess his options after a brilliant season in the halves.

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Hughes has been key for the Storm as appears to club’s solution for the position after the departure of Cooper Cronk, having started as a fullback before moving to the halves.

Used the lead up to the Grand Final to float the fact that he would be looking for the best deal possible for his client, regardless if that meant leaving Melbourne.

“After he has had a bit of a break we will think about 2022 and there will be no shortage of interest. He is happy at the Storm but you never know what will happen,” Orr said

“Jahrome was great at fullback last season and has been even better at halfback – he is a special talent.”

Hughes’ manager’s move comes a year after rumours Raiders British forward John Bateman was shopped around starting in Grand Final week.

Bateman had a long drawn out negotiation regarding his future but eventually signed a four-year deal with the Wigan Warriors, leaving the game in tears after Canberra was knocked out by the Storm.

It’s a trend Johns doesn’t want to see continue.

“Far out – do you reckon he‘s got enough on his plate, to worry about that and reading about that leading up to the game, and journos asking him, ’Hey, you’re off-contract…?’” Johns said on WWOS show Freddy and The Eighth.

“Oh my god – leave him alone. Let him play the biggest game of his life so far.”

Johns continued, calling for Hughes to “stay in Melbourne”.

“Cameron Smith will more than likely retire, so a lot more responsibility on him then. But they are so well-drilled, he just has to do his job and knows what his job is, the players around know what his job is.

“I think clubs would be really interested for him to go to their club, but it would be a struggling club. So, stay down there. Stay in a strong system.”

Johns admitted that Hughes “proved me wrong”, believing the Storm star wasn’t a natural halfback.

But he has been one of the breakout stars of the season.

On Fox League’s NRL 360 on Wednesday night, host Paul Kent slammed the

“Forgive me for being a cynic, waiting for grand final week and starting to shop him around?” Kent said.

“We saw it with John Bateman last year. Is this going to become an annual thing now?

“A young kid who feels he should be on a bit more money gets to grand final and uses that as the opportune time to start spruiking their talents?”



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NRL 2020: Melbourne Storm v Penrith Panthers, Jahrome Hughes, John Bateman, Paul Kent


After a fine year, Jahrome Hughes has emerged as one of the competition’s best halfbacks.

Shifting from fullback to the No. 7 jumper, Hughes has been in fine form all season for the Storm as they finished second and qualified for another grand final.

But a story circulated on Tuesday, quoted his agent and claimed rival clubs were circling for the Kiwi playmakers services.

Hughes comes off contract and is able to field offers from other NRL sides from November 1.

Grand Final

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NRL 2020: Sonny Bill Williams vs Paul Kent, Sydney Roosters, Jake Friend, Trent Robinson


Paul Kent believes the return of Jake friend is far more important than Sonny Bill Williams as the Roosters look to avoid going out of the finals in straight sets.

The defending premiers face being bundled out of the finals with consecutive losses when they host the Raiders in a 2019 grand final replay.

Reports Williams was dropped for the Roosters’ first final against the Panthers have raged this week and Kent believes Williams is no longer the player he once was.

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Semi Final



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NRL 2020: Mitchell Moses must find form for Parramatta Eels before finals, Paul Kent


Mitchell Moses must calm his emotional approach to football to regain his form and put Parramatta back on track before the finals, Paul Kent says.

The fourth-placed Eels have lost three of their last six games off the back of a form slump from their under-pressure halfback, Moses.

Speaking on NRL 360 on Wednesday, Kent said Moses has gone off the boil because he’s failed to keep a level head.

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Round 20



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Paul Kent slams Melbourne Storm and Canberra Raiders, team changes


NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent has taken aim at the Melbourne Storm and Canberra Raiders after the clubs made wholesale changes to their line-ups for the final round of the 2020 NRL season.

The Storm elected to rest 11 stars while the Raiders were just under that figure, opting to rest nine players.

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Cameron Smith, Cameron Munster and Josh Addo-Carr are among the outs for the Storm with Jarrod Croker, John Bateman and Josh Papalii set to miss for the Raiders.

The staggering amount of changes to the teams left Kent seeing red and believes the NRL needs to step in and stop teams resting large numbers. A move that could upset broadcasters.

“I think the issue is broadcasters pay a lot of money for high quality talent,” Kent said on NRL 360.

“To rest as many players as the Raiders and the Storm have, I totally understand why they have done it, but the NRL needs to step in and say totally unacceptable.

“These clubs are being paid $2 million a week for this game.”

The moves by the Storm and Raiders are akin to what the Fremantle Dockers did back in 2015 when then coach Ross Lyon opted to sit 11 players ahead of their final round clash against Port Adelaide after they secured the minor premiership a week earlier.

The decision to rest half the team forced the AFL to implement a pre-finals bye, meaning rest for players in the final round was no longer a valid excuse.

Journalist Brent Read backed up Kent’s stance, believing the moves would leave the broadcasters seething.

“Kenty is spot on, if I am Fox Sports and Channel 9 I am furious with this,” Read said.

“They pay a helluva lot of money to have the best players on the park every week.

“It is a 20 round season this year and there are some big names missing.”

Going against the two however was Paul Crawley who says the league has no right to stop the coaches from selecting their teams.

“This has been an extraordinary season where we had the rule change and we had the break and it has gone on forever, they have been living in a bubble and there hasn’t been a bye,” Crawley said.

“You don’t know the circumstances. In theory you would like to think Ricky would play them and try and get into the top four and get that second bite at the cherry.

“But he might have players there that are absolutely busted.

“He might think if we play those guys this week we can’t win the competition.

“I think the NRL would be completely overstepping the mark if they said you have to play these guys.”

But Kent again brought it back to the money being thrown into the game by the broadcasters and said if players are fit, they should be on the park.

“Everyone is busted,” Kent said.

“Look at what is happening with the cricket and the Australian stars can’t play in the Big Bash and Channel 7 has just said we are not paying for this product.

“Maybe the coaches rest the players in stages so heading into finals three get rested this week and two get rested next week, rather than getting to the last round and 11 of the Storm’s players are being rested.

“I get why they are doing it. They are trying to win the competition. But it is not just one way traffic. There has got to be a little bit of give and take.

“If you have got to put your money out and cop the earn for this week’s broadcast rights then you are entitled to put out a side that is at least recognisable.

“They are very lucky it is a COVID crowd because no one would want to turn up to watch this Melbourne side play or the Raiders.”



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NRL 2020: Boyd Cordner, concussion, Roosters team Round 19, Paul Kent


The eyes of the rugby league world are focused on Roosters captain Boyd Cordner and how he recovers from the latest in a string of head knocks this season.

The inspirational skipper is one of the toughest players in the game currently, but a number of concussions have many people concerned about his long-term health.

On Saturday night at the SCG he accidentally face planted while attempting to score a try, and was clearly groggy from the collision.

He was taken off the field for a head injury assessment (HIA) which the club later said he passed, but a decision was made by the team doctor not to send him back out there.

Round 19

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