Post-brexit EU visitors will need Us-style visas
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.