Conservatives propose online ‘travel authorisation’ for EU citizens

Tories reveal plan for US-style electronic visa waiver once the UK leaves the European Union 

Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Archive/Press Association Images

European visitors to the UK will need to obtain US-style electronic clearance before coming to the UK after Brexit, the Conservatives have pledged.

Under a raft of promises the party claims will improve border security if it wins the election, the Tories said a new visa waiver scheme called Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) would be brought in for EU citizens wanting to travel to the UK.

Under current EU free movement rules, travellers from the bloc only need an ID card to gain entry.

But the new regime will see them asked to bring passports and fill in an online form before travelling, a move the Conservatives said would allow officials to “to screen arrivals and block threats from entering the UK”.

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The Tories are also pledging to gather more data on goods being brought into the UK in a bid to clamp down on smuggling – a move the party claims could save £5bn a year in lost taxes.

They are also promising to bring in new immigration regulations with “far broader powers” for the Home Secretary to stop EU foreign nationals with serious convictions from entering the UK.

Unveiling the plans, 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.”

But Labour warned that the Conservatives’ Brexit would hamper border security by pulling the UK out of key information-sharing systems with the EU.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “Tory claims to be strengthening the border through their sellout Brexit deal are groundless. By quitting the entire system of EU security and justice, we will no longer have real-time access to a host of critical databases or access to the European Arrest Warrant.”


Sam Trendall

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