The British passport has always been one of the better, if not the best, passport to be packing in your travel bag. Easier access to former colonial territories. Friendly relations with the US. And the benefits of being part of the EU. My British passport may not, one day in the future, be the one I want to use though. It’s an EU passport too, and as an EU citizen (for the moment…!) I actually have more rights. Even in Britain, as a British citizen. Us Brits have become second rate
citizens subjects in our own country. Why? Where shall I begin.
Mrs P came to the UK in the summer of 2011. The date is important. Had she arrived after July 2012, I would have needed to prove that I have an income in excess of £18,600. Like nearly half the UK population, that’s an income level I do not boast. In one swift stroke, nearly 50% of the UK population were forbidden from marrying a foreign person and living in Britain. You can do one, or the other. Not boast.
I understand the need to regulate immigration. Some of it is easily solved. Asylum seekers? Well, we could stop bombing other countries to smithereens. The ‘hordes’ of Eastern Europeans that ‘invaded’ the UK when Poland joined the EU? Well, perhaps we should have followed most of the rest of Europe and put a block on them. Although, quite frankly, I find the Poles to be a much nicer, harder working and integrated bunch than an awful lot of Brits. Illegal immigrants? We’re an island for goodness sake. We have it a tone easier than the rest of Europe. We just chose to be lax. Skilled foreign workers? I’m not aware that anyone’s claiming they are a problem.
And then there is Mrs P, and the tiny teeny fraction of immigrants in the UK who have married a British citizen. It was already ridiculous that we had to pay an extortionate £1000 for her initial visa. It’s outrageous that an Indefinite Leave to Remain visa is another £1000. And that a year after that it’s another £1000 for naturalization. There’s no justification for those sort of fees, especially given the absolutely awful level of service you get.
It’s a combination of knee jerk politics and a culture of ripping off anyone who finds themselves at the mercy of the state. If you are the citizen of a country and you wish to marry a foreign person, there should be a streamlined and sensibly priced procedure in place. Not barriers deliberately designed to keep families apart. Even as Mexico is moving away from an archaic immigration policy and towards a system designed to keep families together, the UK goes in the opposite direction.
But I am not just a British citizen, but also a European citizen. As such, I can move to any country in the EU and live and work there. The rest of Europe is more in tune with humanity. In Europe, I can bring my Mexican wife with me. There are treaties that are enshrined into law to give me this right. And there are laws to ensure my wife and I can move freely around Europe. If we wish to move from another European country to the UK, then the UK Border Agency cannot stop us. I just have to show I worked in that EU country for three months.
On arrival, she can get a five year Residence Card and legally work here. The cost? As far as I can see, the cost is entirely measured in time and patience. We could simply bypass the ridiculous, exorbitant and unfair processes of the UK Border Agency, and have a three month European adventure to boot. The biggest cost has already been paid. By the wonderful Surinder Singh. There always has to be a test case. For a test case, you need a person on the wrong end of an unfair law to stand up for himself and take on the state. Good for you Surinder! Does any of this matter to us? We are going back to Mexico, right? But who knows what the future holds…