Theresa May plans “British values” test for visas

Visitors coming for business meetings would have to demonstrate respect for “British values”

Can you make people realign their fundamental moral principles and beliefs to a set prescribed by government?

Theresa May thinks it’s worth a shot.

New plans drawn up by the home secretary include measures that would have any overseas visitors, who are looking to work, study or even just attend business meetings, prove they respected “British values”.

The plans form part of the government’s strategy on countering extremism in the UK, according to the Financial Times.

A draft report seen by the paper says: “We want to make clear to those seeking to visit, work or study in the UK, and those granted protection, that they need to abide by and respect British values throughout their stay in this country.”

“We will make British values an integral part of applying for a visa.”

The Liberal Democrats have already branded the test a “ridiculous idea”.

We’re not sure what is going to go into May’s British values test, but the preeminent British historian David Starkey said last month that British values are “queuing, drunkenness, nostalgia, loving pets, self-loathing, wit and eccentricity”.  

But the crucial point is that anyone can learn to pass a test. It doesn’t prove they believe in any of the content.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • Teresa is too late. The problem is already here.

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  • I doubt that pieces of paper will help. The application for a US visa used to ask "Do you believe in the overthrow of the United States government by force?" It may be apocryphal but Groucho Marx is reputed to have answered "Yes, preferably tonight" and Graham Greene to have stated "Sole purpose of visit". In truth, we all tend to just tick the boxes that give the "right" answer to silly questions such as these without giving them so much as a second thought - and I can hardly imagine that they would deter any terrorist.

    A bigger issue is the effect of unduly tough visa regimes on UK's trading: I was recently in China and had a much more restricted (and expensive) visa than my US or Dutch colleagues there for the same event, owing to China imposing reciprocally tough visa requirements in UK citizens in response to the ones we impose on theirs. Half my Chinese colleagues would never even see the question, as they will have been deterred from applying for a visa by its cost.

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  • Perhaps a test of common sense should be compulsory for all Politicians - Ok maybe that wouldn't work as we wouldn't have any left!

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