General election 2019: Tory plan to improve border security after Brexit

Border Force official checking passport Image copyright PA

The Conservatives are publishing plans to improve the UK’s border security after Brexit.

If the party wins the general election, it says it will introduce automated exit and entrance checks.

It would also make it harder for people with serious criminal convictions to enter the UK from EU countries.

Labour says the UK would no longer have access to EU databases or the European Arrest Warrant, undermining the fight against terror and organised crime.

Announcing the Conservatives’ plan, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “When people voted to leave in 2016, they were voting to take back control of our borders.

“After Brexit we will introduce an Australian-style points based immigration system and take steps to strengthen our border and improve the security of the UK.”

The party says introducing automated entry and exit checks and a requirement for biometric passports will enable to the government to “know who and how many people are in the country, and to identify individuals who have breached the terms of their visa and restrict illegal immigration”.

Successive UK governments have attempted to introduce a more reliable system for counting people in and out of the country, with limited success.

The Conservatives say they would also introduce an American-style visa waiver scheme, called Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), which travellers would have to obtain before reaching the UK border.

It would provide an enhanced ability to screen arrivals against watchlists and block those deemed to be a threat from entering the UK, the party claims.

As the technology becomes available, a future Conservative government would hope to record biometric data – which might include things like fingerprints or retina scans – on all ETAs to provide a further security layer, although the party does not go into details.

In last year’s White Paper setting out its post-Brexit immigration plans, the government said: “It is our intention to require EU citizens to obtain an ETA, but we intend to discuss this further with the EU in the next phase of negotiations.”

Ms Patel is also proposing broader powers to deny entry to EU foreign nationals who have serious criminal convictions.

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