Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, is resisting pressure from Martin Bangemann, the European Commissioner, for Britain to remove its passport checks at points of entry for EC visitors.
The boat trip by MEPs, organised by the Kangaroo group, dedicated to hopping trade barriers, will be the first challenge to Britain's stand. Pamela Entwistle, director of the group, said the New Year's Eve party from Dover to Calais and back was to celebrate the creation of the Single European Market. Because of the one-hour time difference between Britain and the Continent, they will be able to celebrate the arrival of 1993 twice. She said: 'I will not be taking my passport. I don't think the Customs will be making a fuss. As long as you have some form of identification, they don't seem to mind.' A handful of Tory MEPs are due to join the party. The challenge will be taken up by Tara Mukerjee, president of the EC Migrants Forum, which is opposed to the tighter immigration controls agreed by EC home affairs ministers on Monday.
Mr Mukerjee is planning to walk through Customs at Dover without a passport, in spite of the Home Office requirement that one should be shown on request. He will lead a protest lobby today to the Home Office over tougher immigration and asylum rules, which the forum warns will turn the EC into 'fortress Europe'.
The commission has proposed a review of harmonisation of rights to freedom of movement across the EC for those whose family members do not hold nationality of a member state. But the European ministers appeared ready to take a tougher line on Monday. They discussed the adoption of Britain's 'primary purpose rule' denying right of entry to a spouse if it was believed the marriage was primarily for the purpose of gaining entry. The forum will meet officials on immigration for the UK EC presidency at the Home Office to press the case for widening entry rights to families of third-country nationals living in the EC.Reuse content