Is it possible for us to “take back control of our borders”?

 

A number of problems spring to mind as we plan to “take back control of our borders” in the event of Brexit. Inevitably envisioning various scenarios demands a degree of speculation, but the following causes me a good deal of concern.

I suspect Calais may become less of a flash point, though I have an inkling Cherbourg may develop as more of a destination de choix.

Four times a week a giant ferry leaves there for Rosslare. For desperate people that have trekked across a continent and a half I doubt it’ll be seen as too great an added imposition.

Once there the UK border is now approx 277 km away, all 500km of it!

Crossings are available by motorway, country roads, dirt tracks, rail, boat and any number of random fields and….yes.. bogs.

The border was policed, often quite officiously and occasionally with bullets, between 1923 and 1993. It is one of the great triumphs of late 1990s diplomacy that this is no longer the case. Once breached, a trek north to Antrim brings the wretched traveller to within 12 miles of the Scottish coastline,

I’d be interested to hear how the obsessive border controllers would deal with this situation.

Do we undo 70 years of striving to remove the physical division of our own countrymen and their closest neighbours?  I’m sure Donald Trump or Benjamin Netanyahu could offer plentiful advice, but even from the point of view of the most introverted and regressive Brexiteer this would surely be several steps too far.

There is a section of Unionist opinion who will almost always welcome the erection of bricks and mortar (and a few coils of barbed wire) between Belfast and Rome, but when the Leave campaign actively has to campaign for their support we shall know the fight is won.

Or do we let our weary travellers fall into the clutches of traffickers new? In the week which saw “Slab” Murphy finally imprisoned after decades of nefarious cross border villainy, we need have little doubt that there will be a ready supply of experts to assist for the right price. So should we await the pitiful sight of children’s bodies washing ashore on Islay and Jura, as opposed to Lesbos, sweep up the survivors and drive them back to Dublin? Paris? Rome? Athens?

Answers on the back of a fag packet please Brexiteers.

* Simon Parker was a District Councillor (Wycombe District Council) from 2011 to 2015, and was group leader for a year during that time.

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20 Comments

  • Presumably you do know that Ireland is not in the Schengen agreement, and that migrants will not be able to walk onto the ferry at Cherbourg to Rosslare, anymore than they can now. Even those who have been given asylum in the EU would have no legal recorse to stay in the UK should they succeed in crossing the border, as they will just be returned to the country that give them asylum.
    Even if small numbers of illegals could get to Ireland, I have no doubt in to protect its common travel area with the UK, Ireland would take whatever action was necessary.

    Do remainers have no positive reasons for staying in the EU that they can articulate, requiring this shoddy reliance on scaremongering and misinformation.

  • I’d be interested to hear how the obsessive border controllers would deal with this situation

    Simples. Passport checks on all passengers embarking at Cherbourg and/or disembarking at Rosslare, just like at Calais.

    Then there’s no need to guard the border between the Irish Republic and the UK, and the Common Travel Area, which pre-dates not just the UK’s entrance into the EU but the EU itself, can continue just as now, completely separate to and insulated from from Schengen.

  • … and who better to answer that question than the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, a leading Brexit campaigner. The BBC gave her a soft interview on this subject on the World at One on 23 February 2016. You can find the interview here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0714nhr (the relevant segment is between 27 minutes and 36 minutes in). In this interview you can hear the Secretary of State say that it is far from inevitable that Brexit would lead to the reimposition of border controls between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland and refuse to rule out the possibility of creating a hard border around British mainland ports. This of course would lead to the interesting situation where post-Brexit British citizens leaving in Belfast could travel to Dublin without let or hindrance but would need a passport to travel to Cardiff, Edinburgh or London. Far from making the United Kingdom great again Brexit would lead not only to a diminution of our national spirit(s) but also a contraction of our borders.

  • @ Dav

    First if the Common Travel Area survives Brexit then the United Kingdom will not have “regained control of its borders” – which would frustrate one of the reasons why some people want to vote Leave.

    Second anyone with an EU passport can move from France to Rosslare and if in the event of Brexit no passport controls were established on the Northern Irish border this means that all EU passport holders would have unfettered access to the United Kingdom. I don’t have a problem with this but it seems some of my fellow citizens do.

  • This of course would lead to the interesting situation where post-Brexit British citizens leaving in Belfast could travel to Dublin without let or hindrance but would need a passport to travel to Cardiff, Edinburgh or London

    No they woudn’t, just as passengers on aeroplane flights from Belfast or Dublin don’t need to go through border control when landing at Stansted or Heathrow, despite airports being pretty much the definition of ‘hard borders’.

  • Second anyone with an EU passport can move from France to Rosslare and if in the event of Brexit no passport controls were established on the Northern Irish border this means that all EU passport holders would have unfettered access to the United Kingdom.

    They would be able to enter the United Kingdom, yes, but they wouldn’t be able to legally find employment there so why would they bother? They’d have to work illegally, which while it might be an aim for non-EU-citizens with fewer options (whether refugees from Middle East conflicts, or economic migrants from Africa) is probably not so tempting for someone who can legally work in any of the remaining EU countries.

  • Remember that at the moment it is entirely possible for a non-EU-citizen to btain a visa to visit the Irish Republic, which does not give them the right to enter the UK, although of course they could because of the lack of border checks. But they would be unable to work legally in the UK and, if discovered, they would be deported from the UK.

    So the situation in a post-EU UK which remains in the Common Travel Area would be no worse than now in this respect, and would probably be better as we could use our leverage with the Irish government to force them to beef up border checks and visa requirements (as we have done in the past, forcing them to harmonise border policies with us as part of the prize of maintaining the Common Travel Area, which is essential to the Irish economy).

  • Peter Watson 29th Feb '16 - 10:45am

    Isn’t Lib Dem policy also to “take back control of our borders”?

    We will say yes to doctors, experts, entrepreneurs and investors. But we will say no to crooks, traffickers and those who would damage our country.

    By bringing back proper border checks – so we know who’s coming in and leaving the UK – we will identify and deport people who over-stay their visa. We will create visible security and firm control, with real processes to count everyone in and count everyone out. No more guesswork on numbers: real evidence to catch out overstayers. We’ll ensure people can speak English and are willing to work. We’ll ensure that migrants, including from the EU, come to work or study, not to claim benefits. And when it’s time for them to leave, we will make sure they return home.

  • “I fought for Britain and I know how the EU weakens our defences” – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/12176954/I-fought-for-Britain-and-I-know-how-the-EU-weakens-our-defences.html – an interesting point of view.

  • Richard Underhill 29th Feb '16 - 12:22pm

    Dav 29th Feb ’16 – 10:28am Deportation is unlikely, except for convicted criminals with sufficiently serious offences, who would be barred from re-entering the UK while the Deportation Order is in force. Administrative removal is more likely, following which immediate re-entry is legally possible with a visa. The distinction is important and has been with us for more than a decade.
    Peter Watson 29th Feb ’16 – 10:45am Knowing how many people were in the UK depended on keeping records of people leaving. The additional workload and the consequent increase in staffing were presumably the reasons for the honest recognition of reality by a Labour Government and the continuing neglect of the issue by the Conservatives in coalition and subsequently. Having established that people legally in the UK had become overstayers, how should they be found?

  • Richard Underhill 29th Feb '16 - 12:28pm
  • Easy, if you really want to bring down the numbers entering the country all you have to do is to vote Brexit, trash the economy with a plummeting pound, a new liquidity crisis as inflation reappears and debts cannot get paid. Add in a few financial centres downsizing or upping sticks, net immigration could easily turn into net emigration.

  • Do we undo 70 years of striving to remove the physical division of our own countrymen and their closest neighbours?

    Herein is the problem, looking at migration from our traditional neighbours and it hardly warrants a mention. The problem is the mass migrations of people from outside of these traditional relationships…

  • Richard Sangster 1st Mar '16 - 7:46am

    This argument shows how depressing the prospect of Brexit is!

  • If the Brexit folk want to take control of our borders why are they focused on net migration which is the difference between the immigrants and the emigrants? Surely the Brexit team should be focusing on controlling the numbers that come into the UK, namely the immigrants. If we check the historical flow of UK immigrants, at http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/bulletins/migrationstatisticsquarterlyreport/february2016#immigration-to-the-uk , we can see that Non-EU immigrants have consistently exceeded EU immigrants since well before the UK joined the EU and its predecessor named organisations. Indeed, since the Theresa May (Con) took control of such matters in 2010 Non-EU immigration declined to Q2 2013 and has since steadily risen, along with EU immigration. The latest immigration figures for the year to Sept 2015 show Non-EU immigration at 273,000 while the EU immigration total is 257,000.

    Now if the UK can’t or won’t reduce Non-EU immigration which they can control, why make a big deal out of EU immigration which they currently can’t control? The Brexit logic seems to undermine the Brexit case!

    Further, if taking back control of our borders regarding EU immigrants represents a return of UK sovereignty, then how do the Brexit supporters defend that a Brexit seems highly likely to lead to a break-up of the UK, with Scotland pushing again for independence? They seem to be arguing that the best way to defend UK sovereignty is by encouraging or seriously risking the break-up of the UK!

  • Graham Jones 1st Mar '16 - 3:59pm

    Regardless of who would be crossing the land border into the UK, what would be doing so is a separate and no less vexed issue. In the absence of a customs union between a post-Brexit UK and the EU, the ‘hard’ border would have to be reinstated.

  • Regardless of who would be crossing the land border into the UK, what would be doing so is a separate and no less vexed issue

    It already is. Cross-border petrol smuggling from the Republic to Northern Ireland is a well-established criminal enterprise. It would be no more nor less an issue for a post-EU Britain and therefore doesn’t really weigh in on either side of the issue.

  • “This country quite voluntarily surrendered the once seemingly immortal concept of the sovereignty of parliament and legislative freedom by membership of the European Union … as a once sovereign power, we have said we want to be bound by Community law.

    Judge Bruce Morgan, judgement in Sunderland metrication case April 9, 2001” http://campaignforanindependentbritain.org.uk/britain-europe-bruges-group/

  • Simon Banks 8th Mar '16 - 9:13am

    Oh, dear, Raddiy – have you seen the UK – Irish Republic Border? Have you any idea what it’s like? “Take any action necessary” – oh, dear. Major efforts by both UK and Irish forces failed to seal the border in the Troubles. And it wouldn’t just be refugees and economic migrants. Smuggling would be a doddle. Oh, and almost certainly we’d have to police the Scottish border too. Vote OUT to break up the UK.

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