Test 29 June, 2017

The future UK border

The report, The future of public services: digital borders by Reform, makes a powerful case for our border to be seen not as a barrier to trade and travel – but as a great asset to our nation. By investing now in improving technology and data sharing at the border, we can reap the rewards in years to come.

It has been estimated that UK customs will need to process four times as many imports a year post-Brexit – an increase of 300 million transactions.

This report is a great addition to the future borders debate, focussing closely on how we handle the growing number of people visiting Britain. Some 123 million people entered the UK in 2015 and this figure is set to double by 2050.

For obvious security reasons, we must know precisely who is coming in and who is going out of the country. Clearly, we will need to invest in upgrading our border technology and data sharing to do so.

We need to embrace innovative new ideas and the latest technology to help our hard-working border officers on the frontline – who are being put under intense pressure. Put yourself in their shoes. In Dover, in my constituency, they see thousands of trucks and cars go past every day. They use their experience to pick out suspect vehicles. Yet they know there is only so much they can do – only so many they can stop. They need better technology and better data.

How do we fund this investment? The US charges visitors £10 for a visa waiver. Why shouldn’t we do the same? We could raise up to £450 million a year – equivalent to 80 per cent of the UK Border Force’s 2016-17 budget.

The time to invest in our border is now. This paper sets out the benefits to be reaped from treating the border as an asset. Reform’s borders plan deserves serious consideration.