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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Great Britain considers to introduce a ‘fast-lane’ through customs for wealthy passengers and people that are ‘important for the country’. Why not leading the other lane straight back to the plane?!

A lot of people that travel to the UK via Heathrow know the problem: long queues for the British customs and frustrating minutes (sometimes even hours) of waiting before you can finally enter the country.

As the British are very aware of this problem, they put their smartest thinkers on it and came with an original solution: a fast-track lane through the customs service ‘for wealthy people and other people that have added value for Britain’. Of course, the less loaded and/or high potential visitors don’t mind to stand in line for hours.

The Guardian writes on this story. Here are the pertinent snips:

UK Border Agency working on plans for priority passport lanes for rich travellers at Heathrow and other British airports

The UK Border Agency has disclosed that it is working on plans for fast-track passport lanes for rich travellers at Heathrow and other British airports so it can avoid a repeat of the two-hour queues witnessed this year. Brian Moore, the departing head of the UK Border Force, told MPs that "high-value" people who were considered valuable passengers by the airlines or valuable to the British economy would be given priority treatment at immigration control under the plans.

It would be an extension of a priority queueing system tried out this year at Heathrow, under which passengers from Australia, Canada, the US, New Zealand and other mainly "old Commonwealth" countries who do not need a visa to enter Britain would be fast-tracked.

Moore told the Commons home affairs select committee: "It is an idea that officials are discussing with port operators. It will then go back to ministers for them to consider whether and how it is going to be progressed. It is an idea that is being pursued."

Keith Vaz, the committee chair, pressed Moore as to whether it meant the super-rich would have a fast-track into Britain. Moore said it would cover people who were "valuable to the economy and were valued by the airlines". He said the move was intended to demonstrate that Britain was "open for business".

The super-rich from outside Europe have already been offered a fast track to settle in Britain under immigration rule changes proposed last year. Overseas "super-investors" who are willing to keep £5m in a UK bank account are to be given the right to stay indefinitely in Britain after only three years, two years faster than the five-year wait imposed on every other migrant. An overseas investor who is willing to deposit more than £10m will be able to stay after an even shorter period: two years.

This contrasts sharply with the new minimum income threshold of £22,400 a year introduced in July for a British citizen wanting to bring an overseas spouse and child into the country to live with them.

I have a much better idea. As it is not simple enough for the British Border Service to be understood when written down, I made a drawing of my idea:

Drawing made by
Click to enlarge
It is a bad drawing… and a bad joke. However, that is the idea of the British Border Service too. It is preposterous and it shows that Britain seems to be on its way to become a two-caste society again, with a rich and wealthy caste that can do and afford anything, as long as they pay for it. The remaining caste of Dalits (untouchables) doesn’t have any rights and should gather the breadcrumbs that the other caste is throwing at them.

The last paragraph is an indication of this development: it is not allowed to live in Britain with an overseas spouse, if you don’t earn at least £22,400 a year. As I have an overseas spouse myself, I consider it an inalienable right of people to marry the man or woman they love.

It makes sense that new citizens in a country should not directly apply for a welfare subsidy. Therefore it also makes sense that the people who invite them to live in Britain should earn a decent salary. That is the part that I understand. 

However, €22,400 is more than a decent income. According to Wikipedia, the median income in Britain in 2007 was $25.168 or £12,584. Today the median income will hardly be much higher, I presume. This means that marrying the man or woman you love is not a right for every Briton anymore, but only for a happy few that can afford it.

At least, until the grandson of Neil Kinnock stands up and fights his grandfather’s battle all over again. I wish him luck with this battle.

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