Following the appalling terrorist attacks in Brussels on Tuesday 22nd March, the Home Secretary gave a statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday 23rd March, outlining the implications for the United Kingdom of these events.
Keith raised security at the external border of the EU during the debate:
I commend the Home Secretary’s statement and the unity of all parties in support of what she has said. She was right to protect the counter-terrorism budget last November. At least two of the Paris attackers had gone to Syria to fight and then returned to Europe, and 800 hundred British citizens have now gone abroad, and 400 have returned. I accept her assurances about the borders between our countries and other EU countries, but my concern is the EU’s external border, because anecdotal evidence suggests that those people come from Turkey into Greece. Will she assure the House that the Greek Government are given all the support they need to track people when they return to Europe in the first place? Once people get inside Europe, the Schengen agreement means that they can travel anywhere they like, so that external border is critical.
In response, the Home Secretary replied:
The right hon. Gentleman is right to say that the external border is important, which is why within the European Union we have been arguing with others for a strengthening of that border. He will also be aware that this issue pertains to the migration crisis in Europe and, at the European Council last week and at the previous meeting, decisions were taken about enhancing our ability to strengthen that border. We have already given significant support to Greece regarding the way that it deals with people coming across the border, and we are looking to enhance that support. We stand ready with others to ensure that the work at that border is appropriate and does what is necessary to identify people and ensure that those who should be returned to Turkey are returned. The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the Schengen border free zone, and the United Kingdom has its own border at which we are able further to check people who are coming into the UK.