By ArcLight

Colin's place

A long day travelling to Tampere through Storm Dennis. The weather was surprisingly good in Edinburgh before we left this morning (and indeed I saw plenty of blips of people enjoying sunny blustery weather). The arrival in Amsterdam was quite something else. Not the actual landing, which was very smooth, but the approach. Oh my days. My breakfast nearly made a reappearance.

We got through Schiphol smoothly enough. But I had enough time to photograph what I might symbolically think of as "Colin's Place". Colin was the Brexit-voting British tourist who fumed on twitter about standing in a long queue in Schiphol when he arrived the other day, and said that 'this wasn't the Brexit he voted for'. Inevitably, he attracted a load of 'I told you sos' from those who warned that Brexit would lead to longer queues at immigration, but in fact, as Schiphol itself admitted in a reply to Colin on twitter, this was nothing to do with Brexit. There were long queues because, apparently, they were training new people that day.

To be honest, I've stood in some very long queues in Schiphol over the years, both to get into the Netherlands and to move between the Schengen and non-Schengen parts of the airport. But less so recently. The issue has absolutely nothing to do with the UK never being part of Schengen, as we have always used the same queues and booths as those with passports from Schengen states. Now that there is, in large part, automated passport control at Schiphol, the process is generally much smoother, and the picture I have taken (which is where you go from Schengen to non-Schengen) is more typical than a large queue. And since an eagle eye can see that Canadian and Australian biometric passports (although the Australian flag has largely been covered by the Union flag) are welcome in the same queue for automated passport control as EU passports, there's absolutely no reason why this won't be the case after the end of the current transitional period. There will be problems, but they will lie elsewhere (including probably in airports that are less well run than Schiphol). [Just as an aside, let's wait and see - after the end of the transitional period - for the first stories that come when people whose passports have less than 6 months before expiry start being turned down by those self-same machines and refused entry to the Schengen Zone. Now that really would be a Brexit effect, as you can use your passport as an EU citizen right up to expiry as it simply operates as a surrogate proof of identity and is not hedged around by all the conditions that states are placing on the use of passport in international travel contexts beyond the EU.]

But I guess the whole story took on a life of its own, highlighting the misunderstandings and misconceptions that surround almost everything that relates to EU membership and its aftermath (and to be honest, this was on both sides - not just Colin, but also the vast majority of his interlocutors who told him that this was precisely the Brexit he voted for). It is really very sad, largely because I doubt that our public culture will be clear sighted enough to distinguish between those changes which are truly the result of Brexit and those which are not.

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