Trade

Boris Johnson pledges to strengthen border security checks on EU nationals

LONDON — Boris Johnson is pushing for a post-Brexit reform of border rules designed to strengthen security checks over Europeans entering the U.K.

In the aftermath of Fridays London Bridge terrorist attack, in which two people died and three others were injured, the Conservative Party put forward a package of five changes to border rules, including a requirement for Europeans to submit to electronic clearance procedures before entering the U.K. The party has pledged to implement the changes once it has ended freedom of movement after Brexit.

The alleged perpetrator of the London Bridge attack, 28-year old convicted criminal Usman Khan, who was shot by police at the scene, was born in Stoke-on-Trent in the U.K. in 1991 to Pakistani parents. He would not have been subject to the proposed new measures.

Under the Tory plans, if the party wins the December 12 election, EU nationals would have to obtain clearance to visit the country through a new Electronic Travel Authorisation, an online form designed “to screen arrivals and block threats from entering the U.K.,” similar to the U.S.s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) scheme.

As technology becomes available, Europeans applying through the proposed ETA program would also have to undertake biometric tests. The Tories said they “intend to discuss this further with the EU in the next phase of negotiations.”

“Tory claims to be strengthening the border through their sellout Brexit deal are groundless” — Diane Abbott, shadow home secretary

“Once we have left the EU we will be free of EU customs union and free movement rules. These rules have made it easier for illicit goods such as drugs, guns and explosive precursors, as well as illegal immigrants and terrorists to enter the UK, as well as costing the Treasury an estimated £5 billion each year due to excise, customs and tariff evasion,” the Tories said.

The proposal is not new: It was outlined in the governments immigration white paper, published last December. The Conservatives reasoned that the EU plans to introduce a similar system in 2021 for third-country nationals who do not need a visa to travel to the EU, including Britons — the so-called European Travel Information and Authorisation System.

Commenting on the proposals, Home Secretary Priti Patel said that “drugs and guns” reach the U.K. streets from Europe and that “terrorists have been able to enter the country by exploiting free movement.”

Under the proposed reforms, EU nationals would also not be allowed to enter the U.K. with European ID cards anymore, and would need a passport instead. The Conservatives argue that ID cards, especially those from Italy and Greece, are “regularly used fraudulently given their insecurity vs. passports.”

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Requiring passports at the border would allow the British government to automatically count people going in and out, the Conservatives said. They also pledged to stop EU criminals at the border, and introduce the collection of pre-arrival goods data to stop smuggling, by mandating declarations for consignments from the EU.

However, the announcement seems to overlook the imRead More – Source

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