File photo of British tourists
British people may have to apply for permission to travel to the European Union after Brexit.
UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in an interview with the BBC on Sunday that Britons may need to apply for permission to travel under a US-styled visa waiver scheme being considered by the European commission.
Rudd acknowledged the shock the public would have at the prospect of UK nationals having to pay, saying, “I think they would be surprised. I don’t think it’s particularly desirable, but we don’t rule it out, because we have to be allowed a free hand to get the best negotiations.”
“My reaction to that is it’s a reminder that this is a two-way negotiation. The EU and the commissioners may be considering issues, alternatives. They will be considering their negotiations with us, just as we are with them. But I’m going to make sure that what we do get is in the best interests of the UK,” Rudd added.
UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd on the BBC's Andrew Marr show
On Saturday, it was revealed that France and Germany have backed a system based on the US visa waiver scheme. Under the American system, visitors from countries that do not require full visas are required to apply online for permission to travel at a cost of $14 (£11).
Currently, British citizens can travel freely within the EU. However, in a post-Brexit landscape, Britons would have to apply through a future Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) scheme and pay to visit Europe.
The Conservative government came under attack from Labour’s shadow home secretary, Andy Burnham, who said this potential outcome is “yet another example of the drift and confusion as a result of the government’s failure to plan for Brexit”.
British people made more than 30 million holiday trips to EU countries last year, with Spain (13 million visits) and France (8.8 million) being the most popular destinations, according to official statistics.
On the June 23 referendum, about 52 percent of British voters opted to leave the EU, while roughly 48 percent of the people voted to stay in the union. More than 17.4 million Britons said the country should leave the bloc, as just over 16.14 million others favored remaining in the EU.
Those in favor of a British withdrawal from the EU argued that outside the bloc, London would be better positioned to conduct its own trade negotiations, better able to control immigration and free from what they believe to be excessive EU regulations and bureaucracy.
Those in favor of remaining in the bloc argued that leaving it would risk the UK's prosperity, diminish its influence over world affairs, and result in trade barriers between the UK and the EU.