From World War II to the modern-day ferry traveller, the sight of the White Cliffs of Dover has been a symbol of Britain's indomitable spirit. But now the proud history of Britain's busiest ferry port could be sold off and the gleaming, white British border may soon be owned by our one-time arch enemy - the French.
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The shock news comes as the Government attempts to cope with a massive £830 billion national debt. Government advisers have recommended that the Port of Dover be put up for sale to French authorities as one of a string of public assets marked for privatisation. Though the port made a profit of £15.1 million in 2008, the harbour board applied for voluntary privatisation last month and the leading bidder is Nord-pas-de-Calais. The Port of Dover is the largest British port still in the public sector, but it is currently seeking £400 million to expand its facilities.
Chief executive Bob Goldfield told the Daily Mail: "The time is right for the voluntary privatisation of Dover. We want to invest around £400 million on a second terminal, but are unable to because of public sector borrowing constraints. We want to throw off the shackles."
But the proposals have already come under fire. Prospective Tory MP for the town Charles Elphicke, said: "It's clear Gordon Brown has no sense of 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. The people of Dover have a clear message for him – hands off our port, hands off the English border."
And even Dover's Labour MP, Gwyn Prosser, was concerned about the suggestion, since the port's workforce has already shrunk by 60 per cent over the past eight years, and said: "This is a strategic asset and we must be careful about the import of foreign capital."
Would you welcome the sale of one of Britain's most famous landmarks if it helps to battle the national debt?