Post-brexit EU vis­i­tors will need Us-style visas

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Priti Pa­tel

Vis­i­tors to the UK from the EU will have to com­ply with a Us-style elec­tronic visa sys­tem af­ter Brexit, un­der plans set out today by Home Sec­re­tary Priti Pa­tel. The move to­wards a new Elec­tronic Travel Au­tho­ri­sa­tion sys­tem will make it eas­ier for bor­der guards to screen ar­rivals and to block peo­ple con­sid­ered to be a threat from en­ter­ing, the Tories say. It is part of a five-point plan to se­cure the bor­ders af­ter Brexit to be launched today.

Three years ago, the Bri­tish peo­ple voted to take back con­trol of our money, laws and bor­ders. As Home Sec­re­tary, con­trol of our bor­ders is my re­spon­si­bil­ity.

I see the con­straints EU law places on our abil­ity to se­cure our bor­der all the time. Whether it in­volves crim­i­nal­ity such as smug­gling of peo­ple, drugs and weapons, or our in­abil­ity to stop dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals com­ing into the coun­try, it’s clear to me that EU mem­ber­ship is in­com­pat­i­ble with the vig­or­ous bor­der se­cu­rity I and the Bri­tish peo­ple want to see.

Un­der EU law, pre­vi­ous crim­i­nal con­vic­tions do not in them­selves count as a rea­son to deny en­try to, or de­port some­one. My pow­ers as Home Sec­re­tary to deny en­try to EU cit­i­zens who have com­mit­ted se­ri­ous crimes are se­verely lim­ited in scope.

Ul­ti­mately it is up to a court in Lux­em­bourg to de­cide whether or not dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals from the EU can make Bri­tain their home. If we don’t get a Con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment next week, this sit­u­a­tion will con­tinue.

And all too of­ten, we don’t even know who is com­ing into the coun­try. As EU mem­bers, we are forced to ac­cept all EEA ID cards as proof of iden­tity for travel at the bor­der. These ID cards vary enor­mously in qual­ity and some, es­pe­cially those from Italy and Greece, are printed on pa­per and ex­tremely easy to forge.

ID cards were used by Isil ter­ror­ists be­hind the atroc­i­ties in Brussels and Paris to travel seam­lessly across the Con­ti­nent three years ago. You can buy them very eas­ily and cheaply in Al­ba­nia and many do. What is so frus­trat­ing about this is­sue is that ev­ery Euro­pean gov­ern­ment ac­knowl­edges this is a se­cu­rity threat but noth­ing is done about it.

But even for those who come to the UK from the EU with a bio­met­ric pass­port, Bor­der Force has lim­ited data on these in­di­vid­u­als avail­able prior to their ar­rival at the bor­der.

In fu­ture, EU cit­i­zens will re­quire an Elec­tronic Travel Au­tho­ri­sa­tion prior to travel, much like the US ESTA sys­tem. This will im­prove our abil­ity to iden­tify and block the en­try of those who present a threat to the UK.

We don’t re­ally know how many peo­ple are in the county ei­ther. Ear­lier this year, the Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics down­graded its im­mi­gra­tion sta­tis­tics to “ex­per­i­men­tal”. In other words, they don’t know how many peo­ple are com­ing into the coun­try or who they are.

Like me, the Bri­tish pub­lic have had enough of our in­abil­ity to con­trol who and what comes into our coun­try.

We are go­ing to end this farce and in­tro­duce au­to­mated and ac­cu­rate en­trance and exit checks with all vis­i­tors re­quired to have bio­met­ric pass­ports. We will know how many peo­ple are in the coun­try and who is over­stay­ing their visa. We will be able to count in and count out.

But we can only de­liver all this if peo­ple vote for a Con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment on December 12.

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