29 JUN 2017

Our frontline has a bigger role than ever

Leaving the EU is a monumental change as well as an incredible opportunity for our nation. In order to achieve the best possible Brexit it is essential we are ready on day one.

Nowhere will our preparations be more vital than here at the Dover & Deal frontline. We face two great challenges. First making sure our customs checks are ready so tourists and trade continue to flow freely. That's why working with industry groups I have put together a detailed report for Government on how Britain can be prepared for every eventuality of leaving the EU. It is likely we will be leaving the single market and the custom union. If so we must make sure we are fully prepared so we can prove predictions of queues to the Channel Ports totally wrong.

Second we must ensure security at the border is stronger than ever. We must counter people trafficking, illegal immigration and terror threats. Last Summer we achieved so much when the Jungle was dismantled. It was a great success. It reduced pressure on the Dover border. Yet even so 50,000 illegal migrants tried to break into Britain last year. That's some 150 a day stopped by frontline border officers. 10 lorries were fined every day for having illegal migrants on board. Yet we also know from the stories of migrants landing on our shores in small craft that many more may be arriving undetected.

So we cannot afford to be complacent. With signs of attacks on tourists and truckers at Calais we must act now to ensure the problems of ast Summer are not repeated.

This underlines once again why we need more investment at our border. With so many migrants trying to break into Britain, our officers on the frontline are being put under intense pressure.

At Dover, they see thousands of trucks and cars pass every day. They use their experience to pick out suspect vehicles. They do an amazing job. Yet the smugglers and terrorists are getting ever more sophisticated.

So we need to boost our border force with the technology, data and people they need to protect our country and our trade.

I have set out the many ways of funding this investment. We can clamp down on tax dodging at the border. We can introduce a £10 visa waiver scheme like they do in the US. We can seize the traffickers' ill-gotten assets.

However we do it, it's clear we have no choice but to boost the borders budget. With Brexit fewer than two years away, we need to show we are serious about being fully prepared at our border. That's why I have been working with industry groups to plan ahead so we are ready on day one. We can make Brexit a massive success - but only if we're fully ready for it.

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Charlie Elphicke

Here you can read about local news matters and what I've been up to. You can make comments too. I'd welcome your feedback, so please do feel free to comment!

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