Skip to main content

Time to join Schengen

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) did not have a happy birth. It was conceived by the Labour government as a supposedly tougher response to the alleged hoards of immigrants that were a threat to the British way of life- or some such nonsense anyway. It was, in short, a political project, and like most political projects it failed to take into account a whole range of practical difficulties. These difficulties become more obvious every day, and it is now not far short of a serious disaster.

The basic problem is that since the UK chooses to administer its immigration policy separately from the rest of the EU, it has to run a separate visa and entry clearance policy. Yet this has led to the stupid spectacle that any Australian who wishes to gain entry clearance to work in the UK may well have to go to Manila, in the Philippines, approximately 4000 miles from Sydney in order to be interviewed. Meanwhile Asian tourists are being put off by the need for a separate visa, to the point that Chinese tourism to the UK is about 4% of the level of tourism to the Schengen zone- the common visa regime of the other EU member states, plus Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland. 

The fact that the UK is not in Schengen means that arrivals from Schengen destinations, like Spain or Italy must go through the same entry clearance as arrivals from Bangladesh- this is why the queues at British Airports are now as bad or worse than in the US or even Russia. The need to queue for hours simply to enter their home country has begun to irritate many frequent travelers- including myself- who do not have to undergo frontier checks for most other countries that we travel to.

Meanwhile, as the UK puts up barriers to people that it should be welcoming, the restrictive system has become riddled with corruption. The student visa system has totally broken down, to the point that the government has decided to revoke "trusted" status to a University- London Met- and as a result is now threatening to deport 2000 students who are probably completely legitimate. This is hardly an advert for the British University system, which increasingly relies on students from around the world to pay full fees in order to avoid bankruptcy. 

The fact is that British immigration policy- as created by a Labour government cowering before self serving interest groups, such as "Migration Watch", and the ignorant drivel published in the Daily Mail- is now a complete disaster. It is allowing in illegitimate applicants while refusing entry to tourists, students and business people who are a critical part of our economic success.

The fact is that the spurious claim that "the UK must control its own borders" can not be delivered by the current policy. Without a wholesale clear out of corrupt officials and a complete restructuring of the institutions, including the Home Office as well as the UKBA- a policy that will be hugely expensive- the chaos at our borders will grow ever worse.

A rethink is urgently required, and as a matter of priority the UK should be looking to join the Schengen group as soon as possible- the fact is that it is crazy to continue this disastrous failed policy of so-called toughness, which is in fact a chaotic and incompetent laxness. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cicero ReDux

By Special Request of Baroness Scott and Mark Valladares... Cicero's Songs returns: bigger, longer and uncut.
October 1st marked the half way point of the Estonian Presidency of the European Union.  Perhaps for many people such an anniversary is of passing interest at best.  Yet the conduct of the Estonian Presidency is reinforcing just how forward looking and innovative the most northerly of the Baltic States has become.
Estonia is a country that wants to live in the future, and with its openness and innovation, that future seems a lot closer than almost anywhere else in Europe
It is not that Estonia does not “do” the past: the picturesque cobbled streets of old Tallinn have tourist crowds a-plenty enjoying the mediaeval architecture in an Indian summer of sunshine and blue skies.  The real point is that Estonia refuses to be a prisoner of its past. Lennart Meri, Estonia’s President in the 1990s- who spent years of his childhood in Siberia- once told me that the country had to conc…

The American National nightmare becomes a global nightmare

It is a basic contention of this blog that Donald J Trump is not fit for office.

A crooked real estate developer with a dubious past and highly questionable finances. he has systematically lied his way into financial or other advantage. His personal qualities include vulgarity, sexual assault allegations and fraudulent statements on almost every subject. 

He lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes.

He has, of course, been under criminal investigation practically since before he took the oath of office. The indictment of some of closest advisers is just the beginning. His track record suggests that in due course there is no action he will not take, whether illegal or unconstitutional in order to derail his own inevitable impeachment and the indictments that must surely follow the successful investigation of Robert Mueller into his connections with Russia.

However, all of that is a matter for the American people. 

It is also a matter for the American people that Trump is cheating…

In praise of off-shore tax havens

The last few years has seen a spate of "scandals" about the use of off-shore tax havens. The hacking and subsequent leaking of data about who does and does not hold assets in off-shore jurisdictions has become an old perennial in the British press, rather like the "COLD weather happens in winter and QUITE HOT weather happens in summer", whose alarmist capital letter laced headlines are such a lazy part of contemporary "journalism". 

The increasing sophistication of the hackers, whether Russian-inspired or not, has resulted in a steady trickle of information becoming a torrent. After the relatively filleted release of data in the so-called "Panama Papers", the data release of the "Paradise Papers" is even larger.  Of course, just natural curiosity dictates that the off-shore ownership, or even just "ownership", of assets is of general public interest.  Celebrities, from the Royal family to the cast of Mrs Brown's Boys, are …