The government has been warned that Britain risks losing business and lucrative investment opportunities if it doesn't do something about the chaos that is the UK immigration system.
An editorial in the Financial Times called up Theresa May, the home secretary, on her suggestion tht emergency border controls could be implemented to deal with the expected influx of immigrants from Greece.
The paper noted that apart from the “questionable” legality of such controls, it is hard to understand just how they will be implemented when the authorities are struggling to carry out the existing UK visa and immigration checks effectively.
Indeed, last month, the UK Border Agency missed all of its performance targets for non-EU passengers arriving at Heathrow, with waiting times as high as three hours experienced by many travellers.
One of the main concerns of the business world now is that the shambolic state of the UK immigration system will threaten Britain’s reputation as an “open, competitive place for business”.
Protecting the country's business reputation is crucial this year, the paper added, with leaders desperate to do something about the state of the British economy. If the government can organise the immigration system in time, 2012 offers two major events - the Queen's Jubille and the London Olympics - that could help stimulate growth. But if fails to step up to the mark, these events could well damage Britain's reputation, rather than delivered the much-needed financial boost they promised.