Eurostar was criticised for placing the blame for services continuing in Kent for at least two years on Brexit, calling it “wrong and unacceptable.”
Former MEP Ben Habib emphasised the large sum of money spent by Britain to build Ashford International Railway Station, an investment he said was made “in good faith.”
Trains stopped at Ashford and Ebbsfleet prior to the pandemic, but they will not do so again until at least 2024, and possibly not until 2025.
Eurostar claims its decision is motivated in part by the need for additional entry restrictions following Britain’s exit from the EU, with UK travellers now treated as third-country citizens, as well as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Habib, who sat in Brussels alongside other Brexit Party MEPs including Nigel Farage in 2019, was sceptical.
“There hasn’t been much love lost between France and Britain since 1066,” he said. “The Eurotunnel was supposed to help heal the division, but it does not appear to have worked.”
“We find ourselves at odds with France on a variety of issues, including the tunnel’s operation.”
“Fair enough, Eurostar has suffered as a result of lockdowns; we all have,” he admitted.
“However, for the French train operators to refuse to stop at Ashford and somehow blame Brexit for an increase in border checks is both wrong and unacceptable.”
Mr Habib then turned his attention to France, which is led by President Emmanuel Macron and whose national rail operator, SNCF, owns a majority stake in Eurostar Group: “The French do not need to impose additional border controls.”
“It is just their attitude to us which moves them to add in the bureaucracy.
Eurostar said in a statement yesterday, “We can confirm that Eurostar services will not cease at Ebbsfleet or Ashford International stations in 2023 and that we cannot make any commitment for the next two to three years.”