England's Scottish Prime Minister to sell White Cliffs of Dover to France

For centuries, the White Cliffs of Dover, one of the great symbols of England, have been a great symbol of English pride.

But now, thanks to Britain's SCOTTISH Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, the White Cliffs of Dover are to be sold to England's ancient enemy and great rival - France.

Brown is planning to sell the Port of Dover, which is Europe's busiest ferry port, to the French to help reduce Government debt.

The White Cliffs of Dover, on England's south east point overlooking the Channel, are 350ft tall at their highest point. The cliffs are composed mainly of soft, white limestone.

The cliffs have always had a symbolic value for England, and then Britain, because they face Continental Europe, where invasions from nations such as Spain, France and Germany have historically threatened.

Dover is just 21 miles from the French town of Calais, which was once a part of English territory.

Brown may be Scottish, but he's certainly not careful with money. In 1999, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he sold off 60% (or 400 tons) of Britain's gold reserves for $275 an ounce when the price was at an 20 years low. It eventually cost the British (mainly English) taxpayer 2 billion when the price trebled in subsequent years.

White Cliffs of Dover to be sold to the French to help reduce Government's debt

By Vanessa Allen
07th February 2010
Daily Mail

Would Britain's dour Scottish Prime Minister ever sell Bell's whisky or Irn Bru to the French?

For generations the White Cliffs of Dover have stood as a symbol of indomitable British pride.

But now Dover is up for sale and the leading bidder has been revealed to be an age-old enemy - France.

The Port of Dover is one of a string of publicly owned assets which have been earmarked for privatisation as the Government battles with a record 830billion of national debt.

Foreign claim: wars have been fought over the famous White Cliffs of Dover but the port nearby may soon fall into the hands of the......French

Its advisers have recommended selling Dover to France as 'a very logical move', but the plan has prompted outrage.

Conservative Party prospective MP for Dover Charles Elphicke said: 'In trying to sell off our port and the White Cliffs, it's clear that (Scotsman) Gordon Brown has no sense of the history of our nation or the pride of our town.

'How dare he consider selling it all off to the French? Dover is the English border. We stood proud in defending our nation in times past.

'We are the nation's front line. The people of Dover have a clear message for him - hands off our port, hands off the English border, hands off the White Cliffs.'

A sale of the Port of Dover, Europe's busiest ferry port, could net up to 350million for the Treasury.

Asset: Dover port could soon be sold by the Government to help reduce the budget deficit

It would be expected to sell for around 500million, after its harbour board applied to the Transport Secretary for voluntary privatisation last month.

The sale is anticipated to be rubber-stamped and the leading bidder has emerged as Nord-pas-de-Calais regional council, which also owns the port of Calais.

The Government is being advised by merchant bank NM Rothschild, and a source at the investment bank told the News of the World: 'This is an exciting sale.

'Selling Dover to Calais is a very logical move as that is where most of the business is directed.'

The sale of Dover to France would be a bizarre reversal of fortune in Anglo-French relations.

Broker: Gerry Grimstone, chairman of Standard Life, is advising the Government on the possible sale of Dover port

Calais was besieged by the English and captured by Edward III in 1347, and the occupation lasted for more than two centuries.

From 1536, the town sent MPs to the English Parliament but the French recaptured the town from the English in 1558.

The two towns are only 21 miles apart and separated by the Strait of Dover, one of the world's busiest shipping areas.

The Port of Dover, the largest British port still in the public sector, made an operating profit of 15.1million in 2008.

It is a 'trust port', meaning all revenues are reinvested into it, and it is now seeking 400million to expand, as it anticipates a doubling in freight traffic by 2040.

Chief Executive Bob Goldfield said: 'The time is right for the voluntary privatisation of Dover.

'We want to invest around 400million on a second terminal and need to invest in the existing terminal, but are unable to because of public sector borrowing constraints.

'We want to throw off the shackles to enable us to invest in the future.'

The Dover Harbour Board, which oversees the port's operation, denied it had been put under political pressure to privatise.

The port and the Channel rail link are said to be the vanguard of the Prime Minister's 16billion privatisation plans.

He wants to halve Britain's budget deficit in four years and has earmarked a series of publicly owned assets for injections of private capital.

The list also includes the Post Office, the M25 Dartford toll crossing over the Thames and the student loans book, and the Government's stake in uranium processor Urenco.

The scheme has been overseen by Standard Life chairman Gerry Grimstone, a key architect of the Thatcher Government's privatisation of firms like BT in the 1980s.

It targets 3billion from asset sales and 13billion from selling Government property.

The rest of Britain's major maritime ports were sold off in the 1991 Ports Act, but Dover was missed out because of uncertainty over its future because of the construction of the Channel Tunnel.

The privatisation plans have run into local opposition. Gwyn Prosser, the town's Labour MP, warned of a potential loss of jobs. The port's workforce has shrunk by 60 per cent over the past eight years, with 200 jobs lost last year.

Mr Prosser said: 'This is a strategic asset and we must be careful about the import of foreign capital.

'What we're concerned about is who will be the new owner. They could be foreign investors or competition from across the Channel in France.'

Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 7th, 2010 at 01:37 PM..
I wonder if the 'blue birds' still fly over.
Blackleaf, are you blaming this on the fact that the prime minister is scottish?
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