7 Nov 2011

Email reveals Border Agency ‘chaos’ at Heathrow

This is an email from a senior manager at the UKBA to all immigration staff at Heathrow Terminal 5, on 29 July, not long after Theresa May made the 22 July decision to relax some controls at border checks.

What seems most interesting is the paragraph that starts in bold. It refers to how border staff “are no longer able to suspend Secure ID except in the most excpetional circumstances. The Home Secretary has not given us that flexibility. Suspension of Secure ID must therefore stop now.”

So there were light-touch relaxations in checks happening at Heathrow before Theresa May brought in her own measures about no checking children in school parties etc. And you might think from the wording of this that someone in the Home Office has cottoned on to this and stamped on it. But I didn’t hear mention of it in the statement in the Commons today.

Paul O’Connor of the Public and Commercial Services Union told us it was indicative of the “chaos” in the Border Agency and that his members were telling him that the suspension of Secure ID checks carried on regardless after that email.

David Cameron decided to stay sat next to Theresa May for her statement to the Commons on border security. He managed the Nancy Reagan admiring look, nodded periodically and even waved Labour to pipe down. It was a gesture of support that Liam Fox didn’t get and a sign of how confident Mr Cameron is that Theresa May is in the clear on this one.

Before that, in his statement on the G20, David Cameron said he had a lot of sympathy with the “intellectual coherence” of the argument (from Labour MP Graham Stringer) that countries who can’t hack it should now leave the euro. When Tory MP Peter Bone put the same idea to him the PM said he learnt from the UK’s exit from the ERM (when he was working for Norman Lamont) that countries with different economies that need different interest rates should not be lashed together.

His argument for the government’s position that it supports existing euro members staying inside the eurozone was that it was what those countries wanted. I can’t help feeling those arguments need a little refinement before he next airs them.

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