BREXITing has been going on for many years now. The United Kingdom has signed up to neither of the European Union’s major innovations – the Euro and the Open Borders (Schengen) agreement – and it pleaded idleness and stupidity when invited to join the Metric system. (As a result, the UK is the only "advanced" country in the world to have no unified system of weights and measures, as a visit to any supermarket will demonstrate).
Back in the 1990s, the opening of the Channel Tunnel and the introduction of Eurostar and Eurotunnel services, promised to bring at least London and south east England closer to their nearest neighbours. But today the Ministry of the Interior run by Theresa May has other ideas: it wants to deter travel in either direction.
UK citizens who want to travel to France are now objects of suspicion; they need Exit visas (that is what Advance Passenger Information is about), they are frisked and they are delayed.
It’s worse when they try to return, since a huge operation designed to delay them has been created at the Channel Tunnel – I don’t know about Eurostar; I gave up on it some years ago.
Two days ago, Sunday 1 November, I returned from a business trip to Germany. From arrival at the Channel Tunnel to exit from the Border Control Holding Pen took an hour. Even if all the Border Control booths had been open, it would still have taken 30 or 45 minutes. If screening was done on an intelligence-led basis, ninety-nine percent of British and other EU number-plated vehicles should simply be waved through.
It’s got nothing to do with the Migrants at Calais trying to get into the UK, nor has it got anything to do with National Security. It is about teaching British citizens – holidaymakers and business people alike – that Theresa May does not like them going to France or coming back. There is going to be a price to be paid – a target delay applied to your journey.
And how is the Target achieved? Mindless scanning of passports on quaint machines. No wonder those migrants think they will get through with all those Border Control agents deployed by Mrs May to frustrate British citizens.
It’s time to close down this Tribute Act to the Soviet Union. Eurostar and Eurotunnel should summons up some courage and tell Mrs May: The UK borders at Calais and Folkestone should be policed – and open.