Is It Time For To Strengthen Relationships With Commonwealth Citizens?
17 Feb 2017
In the wake of Brexit, there are many questions surrounding the trade deals Britain may or may not be able to negotiate now they are out of the European Union. So as Britain seeks to affirm relationships with countries outside of the EU, Conservative MPs are calling for fast track visa services for Commonwealth Citizens.
45 Conservative MPs wrote to Home secretary Amber Rudd, urging her to recognise the previous contributions of the Commonwealth, stating that when Britain became part of the EU, relationships with India and other key partners of the Commonwealth became strained.
The letter mainly concerned the treatment of Indians when they arrived at UK airports or other ports of entry. Current procedures mean that passengers from Commonwealth countries need to wait in the “All Other Passports” queue, whilst European passengers can fast track through to the arrivals hall.
Citizens from Australia, Canada and India spend over 2 billion in the UK each year, traveling to the country for both pleasure and business.
There was no call to ease visa conditions, but more concerns over how citizens were welcomed to the UK. It was suggested that airpot signage should perhaps be changed to “The Commonwealth and all other passports”, at least recognising the special relationship between the countries.
The extended wait in the passport queue was also cited as a problem and MPs called for a change in rules, which would allow for the Registered Traveller Scheme to be extended to other passengers. This scheme was set up for business travellers who meet a set of requirements and can be fast tracked on arrival in the UK, subsequently being entitled to use UK/EU lanes.
In March this year, there will be a meeting for Commonwealth Trade and the focus is to renew both friendship and business deals between the UK and Commonwealth. The MPs cited this as the ideal opportunity to make a positive change.
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