Monday 3 April 2023

Brexit logic in action


The problems with long queues at Dover are, according to the Home Secretary, nothing at all to do with Brexit. They are all the fault of the ferry companies for accepting too many bookings, the Port of Dover for allowing them to fill their ships rather than sail half-empty, bad weather at sea, and silly people who actually want to go to a foreign country rather than stay in the glorious global UK, as advised by John Redwood. For an alternative view, the Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, explains here exactly why the decision to end freedom of movement and apply the same rules to UK travellers as already apply to other non-EU citizens has added to the delays. In a nutshell, the requirement to ensure that no-one has stayed in the EU for longer than allowed means that every page of every UK passport has to be examined for entry and exit stamps, the dates checked to see which fall within the last 180 days, and the total duration totalled to see if it’s more than 90 days, rather than the previous procedure which meant simply checking that the passport was valid and belonged to the person showing it. For a coach carrying 50 people, that is going to take some time to do. And, of course, it’s going to get worse, because – at the moment – few of us have many stamps in our passports showing entry and exit dates; as time passes that number will increase and the checks will take longer. And there’s a change in the pipeline meaning that all travellers will have to be fingerprinted and have their facial biometrics checked as well.

And yet, from the curious perspective of the Brexiteers, Braverman has a point, of sorts. The aim of Brexit was to ‘control our borders’; the emphasis is very much on the ‘our’. They never intended checks to be reciprocal, and assumed that the rest of Europe would recognise just how special and exceptional ‘we’ are. Ending ‘freedom of movement’ was always envisaged as a ‘one-way’ process; it was the freedom of foreigners to come to the UK which was to be ended, not the freedom of UK citizens to travel to the rest of Europe. It’s the same attitude which leads to people who come to the UK being ‘migrants’, whilst people going from the UK are ‘ex-pats’. Two completely different things. Apparently. And if you start from that perspective, then it’s obvious that Brexit does not require the French to impose the same level of border controls as the UK is imposing, which means the queues are down to French bloody-mindedness rather than Brexit. For people who think that way, Brexit was a chance for the UK to opt out of relaxed EU rules on travel, not for the EU to change its own approach in any way. In a magnificent piece of reverse logic, it also all ‘proves’ just how vindictive the EU is and how much better off we are not being part of it.

Whilst, for most of us, logic would suggest that the solution lies in negotiating a closer relationship with the EU and restoring at least some elements of freedom of movement, the Brexiteer argument is better expressed by John Redwood’s solution – ordinary oiks should stay at home, with its corollary that queues would then be shorter for the elite. That has the added advantage of preventing susceptible people from being contaminated by strange European ideas as well. Another Brexit bonus.

1 comment:

An Eye On... said...

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