Safe borders are crucial
THERESA May has come un der fire from Leave campaign ers in the EU referendum for seeking to differentiate between immigration and border control. But was she wrong to do so? Unlike countries in the Schengen area of continental Europe, the UK retains the right to stop people at the frontier and check who they are. The Home Secretary has the power to refuse entry to anyone whose presence in the country would not be conducive to the public good.
That applies whether they are from inside or outside the EU. Indeed, a prominent member of the Leave campaign, the Labour MP Gisela Stuart, has asked Mrs May to ban Marine Le Pen, leader of the French Front National, from visiting the UK to campaign in the referendum, which rather proves the point. It is, therefore, not true that anyone from the EU can come into the country willy-nilly – though if they have done nothing wrong or are not persona non grata then they cannot be denied entry and the opportunity to settle here. Our right to check on arrivals remains, whatever the outcome of the referendum on June 23. The issue, therefore, is how robust those checks are. The two sides in the referendum campaign can argue about immigration policy, though it is a fact that if we want to stop EU citizens coming to Britain to settle then we need to leave. But border security is crucial whatever the country’s stance on immigration. Are our systems sufficiently effective to ensure terrorists are not able to wander in and out of the country, claiming EU free-movement rights, or simply as tourists? As this newspaper reported last week, former police chiefs and others with expertise in this area are concerned that they may not be. Mrs May said membership of the EU was important because we can only stop people “if we’ve got the information we need to have”. The implication was that the EU provided it. But as was evident in the investigation into the Paris and Brussels atrocities, the police and intelligence services failed to keep watch on the jihadists in their midst. Our border security is only as strong as the information on which it is based. Ministers need to ensure that UK border controls can identify terrorists, criminals and others who would do us harm. To say this will be easier if we remain in EU simply defies evidence. — The Telegraph