News | Published December 02 2019

Improved border security a post-Brexit priority for the Conservatives

The Conservatives say that they will introduce automated exit and entrance checks as part of improvements to the UK’s border security after Brexit should they be re-elected this December.

Other plans include measures making it more difficult for individuals with serious criminal convictions to enter the country from EU states. 

Minor criminality will not be a condition for denying entry, but it would be assessed on a “case by case” basis.

Home secretary Priti Patel said: "When people voted to leave in 2016, they were voting to take back control of our borders.

"After Brexit, we will introduce an Australian-style points based immigration system and take steps to strengthen our border and improve the security of the UK.”

The Conservatives say that biometric passports will become a requirement, along with new entry and exit checks to allow the government to more accurately measure “who and how many people are in the country”, crack down on illegal immigration and make it easier to identify those who have “breached the terms of their visa”.

However, the Labour party has suggested that after Brexit, the UK would have no access to EU databases or the European Arrest Warrant, rendering it more challenging to identify terrorists and criminals.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: "Tory claims to be strengthening the border through their sell-out Brexit deal are groundless.”

"By quitting the entire system of EU security and justice, we will no longer have real-time access to a host of critical databases or access to the European Arrest Warrant.

"This will undermine the ability of our police and border agencies to apprehend terrorists and organised criminals, and could even make us a safe haven for fugitives fleeing the justice systems in the EU."

The Liberal Democrats added that the measures would fuel more “bureaucracy” and “red tape”, suggesting that the EU could impose fees upon British holidaymakers visiting member states. 

However, the Conservatives claim that their plans will provide more scope for screening arrivals from abroad against criminal and terrorist watch lists, which will allow border security to prohibit those perceived be a danger from entering the country. 

This will be done through an Electronic Travel Authorisation [ETA] visa waiver scheme, which travellers will have to obtain before arriving at the border.

Under the proposals, the use of European ID cards as proof of identity would no longer be permitted at the UK border. 

There would also be new checks on goods coming from the EU through the use of “pre-arrival” data, which the Conservatives say will reduce “leakage” in revenue caused by illegal smuggling of goods. These terms will be discussed in trade talks with the EU at a later stage.

A 2018 government White Paper addressing immigration plans after Brexit said: “It is our [the government’s] intention to require EU citizens to obtain an ETA, but we intend to discuss this further with the EU in the next phase of negotiations.”

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
December 02 2019

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