Leaving the European Union will mean a lot of change – nowhere more so than at the Dover and Deal frontline.
The end of unchecked EU immigration will require a beefing up of our border controls. The rising threats of organised crime, trafficking and terror all mean we must invest more in intelligence to keep us safe. Yet at the same time we want to maintain the free flow of trade at Dover – and have smooth journeys for legitimate travellers too.
How could we do it and be ready in two years' time? I have written to the Home Secretary, proposing we plan now to adopt a visa waiver system for EU visitors. If we charged every visitor £10, this should raise some £250m a year – enough to increase the UK's Borders Budget by 50%. With this extra money we can boost our efforts at Dover to combat traffickers, terrorists and criminal gangs.
There is a real challenge ahead for Dover. Post Brexit we will need to extend our full border control systems to travellers from the EU to Britain.
The number of visitors and the amount of trade coming through Dover continues to rise. It needs to stay that way. So it is in the interest of both the UK and European Nations that our borders remain open for business.
We must continue to work with our European neighbours to share intelligence and see that proper security checks are made at the borders as needed. This is because we all need to work together to combat organised crime, people trafficking, smuggling and terrorists. Meanwhile, passports must be properly checked on departure. Therefore, systems like the Le Touquet Treaty's juxtaposed controls at Dover and Calais should be maintained as they work in the interests of Britain and France.
Britain faces a number of serious threats at the border. As the Calais Jungle camp grew, the number of migrants being smuggled in the backs of lorries trebled. Add to this people traffickers and rising numbers of people turning up in small boats on the beaches and small ports of Southern England. They amount to a changing border security challenge that must be answered to prevent people breaking into Britain through the Port of Dover or the beaches of Deal – and to stop those who would seek to do us harm.
For faster checks at Dover, investment is needed in modern systems. We must make sure we have enough officers. By adopting a US style visa waiver system we can fund the investment we will need to make in our border controls.
By taking action now we can be ready to have strong borders immediately on Brexit. Borders where we still enable legitimate tourists and trade to flow freely. Yet borders that are strongly policed so we can crackdown on threats to our security.
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