Author: GLEN OWEN POLITICAL EDITOR FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has warned that Britain will be powerless to restrict EU immigrants if we leave the EU without a deal.
Mr Javid told Cabinet colleagues last week it would be impossible to have ‘preventative checks’ at airports and ports because of the sheer volume of passengers.
He said that to avoid gridlock, EU citizens would still go through electronic passport gates and avoid questioning by Border Force officials.
His warning is seen as an attack on Theresa May as she prepares to argue in Cabinet tomorrow that post-Brexitimmigration policy should stop favouring EU citizens.
It takes an average of 45 seconds to check an EU passport but four minutes for other countries. Non-EU visitors already face delays of more than three hours at Heathrow because of staff shortages.
Brexit is meant to signal the end of freedom of movement, with new arrivals from the EU losing their automatic right to reside. But Mr Javid’s comments raise questions about how that will be policed.
His remarks were interpreted by No 10 as a criticism of the amount of planning by Government for a no-deal Brexit.
It also suggests that if EU countries impose entry restrictions on British citizens, the Government will be unable to use the threat of reprisals to force a climbdown.
Mrs May has been growing increasingly frustrated over Mr Javid, regarding him as blatantly manoeuvring for the leadership.
She has also been angered by his rebelliousness over policy affecting the Home Office, her former department.
Last month he accused her of making the ‘wrong decision’ after she blocked a three per cent pay rise for police officers.
A source said: ‘Both Sajid and the PM know that she would have sacked him after the Election if she had won a majority, so he doesn’t feel he owes her any loyalty.’
The Prime Minister’s preferred candidate to succeed her is understood to be Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has shared her political journey from Remain supporter to pragmatic ‘let’s get on with it’ Brexiteer.