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A key Brexit measure regarding immigration, which involved prohibiting Europeans from entering the UK with only a national ID card, has started to be discreetly undone.
Starting January 2024, groups of children from French schools will have the option to travel to the UK using ID cards instead of requiring each child to have a passport.
In October 2021, Priti Patel, the former home secretary, put a stop to the practice of using insecure ID cards for entry into the country.
At the time, Ms Patel stated: “We are enhancing our border security and fulfilling the public’s demand to regain control of our immigration system.”
She emphasized the importance of stopping individuals who try to enter our country illegally by using fake documents.
The restriction affected over 200 million citizens of the European Union, who possess national identification cards but not passports, preventing them from traveling to the UK. This significantly impacted the once thriving tourism industry, particularly for school groups.
The Institute of Tourist Guiding stated that there has been a significant decline in school group reservations from Europe for summer 2022, as compared to the numbers in 2019 before Brexit and Covid-19. The decrease is estimated to be around 99 percent.
Patricia Yates, the CEO of VisitBritain, stated to members of Parliament that destinations such as Hastings have been severely impacted by a decrease in school trips.
Ireland and Malta were the top choices for schools seeking English-speaking destinations with minimal bureaucracy.
After a trial approved by the Home Office on Jersey, and discussions between Rishi Sunak and French president Emmanuel Macron, the present home secretary announced the decision in a written response.
James Cleverly announced that there will be adjustments made to permit minors under the age of 18, who are enrolled in a school in France, to participate in organized educational trips to the UK without the standard requirements of a passport or visit visa.
“Children who are nationals of the EU, other EEA countries, and Switzerland will be allowed to travel using their national identity card.”
The reversal was well-received by Brittany Ferries’ CEO, Christophe Mathieu. He stated, “This is great news for our company as cultural exchanges are ingrained in our identity.”
“The amendments to the regulations eliminate an obstacle for traveling, simplifying the process for students to advance and prosper. We are pleased that this modification will be implemented in time for the upcoming Easter and summer periods next year.”
The child’s nationality is insignificant as long as they possess a valid ID card. Non-European children who typically require a UK visa for their nationality will not need one for travel, but will need a passport instead of an ID card.
European Union member states issue ID cards that comply with the most rigorous international security measures in order to deter falsification or alteration.
Industry insiders in the travel sector have suggested that the reversal will soon apply to all European Union student tours. One individual stated, “I fail to understand the reasoning behind continuing to prohibit students from Ostend, Belgium while those from Dunkirk are allowed to visit without issue.”