EUROPE: Porous borders will continue

I read with interest the letter concerning the controls exercised over persons entering the UK from other European Union states (Northumberland Gazette, March 24).

Your correspondent mentions that Mr Zulkalns, a Latvian citizen who had been convicted of murder in Latvia, committed murder in London. He also mentions that Mr Abaaoud, a Belgian citizen who was involved in terrorism in France, visited Britain in 2014.

It seems to be suggested that the authorities were aware of good reasons why neither man should have been admitted to the UK, and that had the two not been EU citizens they would not have been admitted. This does not appear to be the case.

The ‘database’ contains only information disclosed to the UK authorities and entered by them. It is far from being a compendious list of all persons convicted of a crime or involved in terrorist activity who might wish to enter the UK.

All the terrorist acts committed in the UK recently have been the work of UK citizens.

Going back in time, serious terrorist acts were committed here by citizens of the Irish Republic. There is an open Schengen-style border between the UK and the Irish Republic. Advocates of the UK leaving the EU have said, apparently authoritatively, that if the UK were to leave the EU these arrangements with Ireland would continue. The fundamental political difference which underlay IRA terrorism has not disappeared, so we should not imagine that there is no future risk to our security from that direction.

The difference concerning the EEA Family Permit seems to reflect differing interpretations of the European Convention on Human Rights. Withdrawal by the UK from the EU would not of itself involve withdrawal from the convention. If the UK were to withdraw from the EU it is likely that refusal of an EEA Family Permit would be challenged in the courts.

If the UK were to withdraw from the EU the risk that Scotland would choose to withdraw from the UK would be significantly increased. Such events would almost certainly be followed by Scotland’s entry into the EU and the Schengen system. It is worth noting that it was mainly security concerns which induced England to enter into a union with Scotland in 1707.

All borders, whether land or sea, are porous and currently thousands of people enter the UK illegally each year. A land border between England and Scotland would be more porous than most.

GL Hopper,