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On 23 June, 2016 the British public voted to leave the European Union. This process will take years to complete and is shrouded in uncertainties, but it is clear that Brexit will have huge ramifications for worldwide security at large, and for the United Kingdom in particular.
One of the main questions asked by British voters on both sides and by their European neighbours, is how will this affect British border control? At this stage, it is difficult to give absolute and clear answers, but some things we can speculate about.
Since 2012, Britain has received an average of 300,000 immigrants each year. In 2015, more than half of the year’s 333,000 migrants arrived from outside the EU. With the flood of refugees coming into Europe, immigration was clearly a decisive factor in many voters’ choice to vote to Leave the Union.
Numerous officials in favour of Brexit have promised the public that migration would be cut significantly post-Brexit. There are now indisputable signs that this will not be the case, with several pro-Leave politicians signalling that cutting immigration would be unlikely. However, so far the promise remains that stricter controls on who can enter the country will be implemented.
There is also a not insignificant possibility that for the first time a century, London will have to establish a land border in the British Isles. When Scotland voted on a referendum to leave the UK in 2014, many Scots chose to remain within this union under the understanding and condition that they would remain a part of the EU. In fact, one of the persuasive arguments of the London-run campaign to keep Scotland in the union was the uncertainty of the newly established independent state entering with ease into the EU.
With Brexit, this carrot is no longer dangling. Scottish prime minister Nicola Sturgeon has already indicated that she will be advancing a repeat referendum on Scottish independence as soon as possible, and nearly two thirds of the public with support it if it were held today.
While the Brexit referendum was nonbinding, and the Prime Minister still has to initiate the break from the EU, at this stage, British border officials must quickly come up with serious plans on how to secure their new borders in the future.