Yesterday morning, James Brokenshire, the Tory minister for security and immigration, was given a rough time of it on the Today programme. Not, as you might guess if you’d tuned out of the immigration debate of late, because of missed immigration targets or border checks being lax. In fact, he was being given a hard time because the border checks are about to be too rigorously enforced all of a sudden.
That wasn’t it exactly, to be fair – it was about the fact that waiting times are expected to go up this summer due to the checks being enforced as previously announced. But given that the waiting times are a direct result of the border checks being in place as the people have pined for, then he might as well have been.
Voters need to understand that either you have things quick and easy with no border checks – or inevitably, border checks are going to mean the whole system is slightly slower. Now people should definitely be putting pressure on the government to make the system of border checks as efficient and as fast as possible, no question about that. But everyone complaining endlessly about the lack on in/out checks and then when they are put in place, everyone then moans about the inconvenience does tell us a little something about the current tone of the immigration debate.
Which is that all perspective appears to have been lost. The Home Office is expected to work miracles, ones that will disrupt nothing. As for me, I’m pretty relaxed about things the way they are, but I know that if I thought border checks were absolutely vital, in terms of both controlling immigration and keeping track of potential terrorists going abroad, then I’d be willing to have it take me an hour or two more to get to France every year. If I wasn’t prepared to wait in a queue a little longer, that would tell the world something about just how serious I was about border checks being a priority of mine.
This goes beyond immigration and extends into every issue, to some extent. People want the benefit of something and sod the downside. Sometimes things don’t have downsides, but mostly they do. So what do you think is more important then? In/out checks that catch every fly or speed of your journey abroad? And if I can’t for the life of me figure out what the public’s priorities on this actually are, how do you expect this or any other government to work it out?