There\’s a simple explanation for this

Britain’s borders are still wide open to abuse by migrants
It seems that we still don’t know who is entering or leaving the UK, writes David Green.

That\’s because we don\’t measure who is leaving the UK.

Recall your last trip to sunshine and cheap booze.

Did anyone check your passport as you left the country? Why, yes, the airline did. Anyone else? No.

The Government does not check who is leaving the country. There is no passport control on the way out. Thus we do not have a record of who has left.

And of course it\’s quite right that this should be so. To check those coming in, to ensure that those wishing to enter have the right to enter is just fine.

As an aside I always rather like this point, that if you are a UK citizen but do not have proof of being so they are supposed to let you in anyway. For as a UK citizen you\’ve the absolute right of entry, a right not dependent upon pieces of paper.

As to the not checking of those leaving, this is right and proper too. For if I, a UK citizen, decide that I wish to leave the UK that\’s my business, absolutely nothing at all to do with the government. Therefore why should they know, why should they check and why should I damn well have to tell them?

And thus we\’ll never be able to know exactly who is still in the country. For to work this out we\’d have to keep a register of everyone who leaves, Brits and Johnny Foreigners alike. And as it\’s none of the government\’s damn business where Brits decide to take themselves, such a system is not possible.

9 comments on “There\’s a simple explanation for this

  1. some years ago I had to deliver something to Paris, and had taken the strange notion that nobody was using passports any more, so I did not take mine.

    Nobody checked my papers at Dover, the French did check on entry and accepted my driving licence, then on the return the French were a bit funny when I proffered my driving licence but let me go, back in Blighty they went effing ape and took the car to pieces and actually swore at me. There seemed little point arguing my right to enter my own country, that would have only made it worse, and they said that they have the power to do what they want, they could impound my car without any reason and no right of appeal. They also said they could refuse me entry, which I did not believe, but I was properly worried that I might lose my car.

    Moral of the story –
    1:don’t be an arse .
    2:we do not have passportless travel from the UK.

  2. “And as it’s none of the government’s damn business where Brits decide to take themselves, such a system is not possible”
    I agree that it is not the Government’s business where I go.
    However it is not unreasonable to see who leaves the country – so we know what our population is.
    So it is their business to see who is leaving the country.

  3. What possible good reason could the government have for knowing what the population of the country is? Not that they do. It is only an estimate. They simply do not have the resources to count each and every person in the nation.

    Keeping people out, yes. Detecting and removing people who shouldn’t be here, yes. But keeping track of who is leaving? No.

  4. johnny bonk – “Nobody checked my papers at Dover, …. Moral of the story –
    “1:don’t be an arse .”
    “2:we do not have passportless travel from the UK.

    I don’t think the claim is that we can get into the UK without a passport, but rather that we can leave it. Which you did. Obviously coming back they need to check you have a visa if not a passport and they are unlikely to take your word for it.

    I am appalled by point 1. The only people being an arse were the officials who seem to think the wrong people won the last war. They do not have such powers and if they do, they bloody well shouldn’t. While I am all for being nice and co-operative with law enforcement, such behaviour is utterly unacceptable on their part – and lying down like slaves is not the right response. We do have rights and it is important to stand up for them.

  5. @SMFS – “I am appalled by point 1.” well yes, but’s that’s my point – they have wide legal powers to confiscate and they were taking spanners and screwdrivers to my car and there was nothing I could do about it, and they were very pissed off with me and seemed to take it as personal affront. They assured me and again that people NEVER enter the UK without papers.

    The bloke at passport control, when I proffered my driving licence,
    said “what’s this”,
    “my driving licence” I replied,
    “where’s your passport” said he,
    “I don’t have it” said I, “why not” said he,
    “I didn’t think they are required nowadays” I replied. At that, he leaned back, pushed back his cap and declared
    “I’ve been doing this job for six years and I’ve never heard that one before”, they then proceeded to make my re-entry to my homeland unpleasant as previously mentioned.

    So, whatever one’s human right to come and go freely from one’s homeland, if you try it without a passport then you are an arse because immigration will whack you and they have extra legal powers and you don’t. That’s not how it should be, but it is how it is.

    Also, to nitpick, I doubt they would have let me out of the country (whatever my rights) had they been vigilant at Dover when I left (the ferry would have refused to board me – immigration would not per se have powers to stop me)

  6. Ferries may be a bit lax but easyjet isn’t. Have you tried booking lately? Loads of e mail reminders about ID, then you go through check-in which while efficient also gathers a bunch of data.
    Which leads to the conclusion that if all movement was easjetted then the government would not need to gather immigration data. They could just collate it by noting the difference between total seats occupied into UK from total seats occupied leaving UK, over any period they chose.

  7. Why shouldn’t a government keep records of which foreigners are arriving in the country, and which are leaving?

  8. First point, you might have an absolute right to enter the UK as a UK citizen but it’s likely to be at the considerable problems outlined above, or (even more likely now) you will be invited to avail yourselves of the courts, absent a passport. Having used the tunnel several times recently, a wave of the front of the document usually suffices for the French, the British always put the thing through their scanner. Same experience at at least 4 UK airports in recent years. So your comings are recorded, if not your goings.

    I can assure you these people do not like their attention drawn to the bit about the secretary of state requesting and requiring stuff without lets and hindrances at all. On one occasion, the twit leaned into my car (my UK passport in hand), asked me if I spoke English, asked for a detailed itinerary, asked how long I was planning to stay, and indeed if I had already bought a return ticket! Replying that I was under the impression UK citizens could stay as long as they damn well pleased made my journey less pleasant, and rather longer. I digress, but they are obviously very paranoid about brown Brits in German-registered cars.

    Second point – if you had exit controls as pretty much everyone else does, you only need keep a record of people who were admitted with anything other than indefinite leave to stay, so you know how many people (and indeed who) came in one some limited visa and failed to leave. Of course the system won’t be perfect – records are incomplete, passports get lost and stolen, people arrive at Heathrow on a jet and leave on a yacht, or here in Schengenland arrive in (e.g.) Slovenia through an official border crossing and go back to Croatia via an unofficial one. But under the current regime no one has the first clue how many people are simply overstaying their welcome (as opposed to the typical view of illegal immigrants as people arriving clinging to the underside of trains and trucks). But there is no need to start keeping records of the comings and goings of EU/UK citizens to enforce standard exit controls.

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