Government admits it could have introduced blue passports before Brexit

Dec 26, 2017, 01:53
Government admits it could have introduced blue passports before Brexit

Confirming it was Thatcher's government who "chose" to ditch the blue passport in the 1980s - under no pressure from the European Union - Charles Powell said the clamour for the old-style travel document was "part of the nostalgia on which the predominantly elderly Brexit constituency thrives".

The blue cover, per the statement, is a return to the "original appearance" of the British passport and the colour blue was "first used in 1921".

The British government says current United Kingdom passport holders will not have to do anything ahead of the document's renewal date.

Home Office Minister Brandon Lewis said the new passport will be the "most high-tech and secure we have ever seen", making it more resistant to fraud and forgery.

The new design will be phased in once Brexit comes into force in 2019, no longer including the European Union insignia.

Neil Coyle, the Labour MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, commented: "A new passport that makes holidays more expensive, limits where people can work or study & costs billions".

The current paper-based picture page on the burgundy passports will be replaced with a new, super-strength plastic polycarbonate material that will be more hard to alter.

Meanwhile the European Parliament's chief Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt pointed out that Britain could have chosen to have a blue passport while remaining a member of the EU.

Croatia notably refused to change the dark blue colour of its passports after joining the EU in 2013, with the interior minister telling local media: "The EU's position is that there is no obligation". The new blue British passports will be issued from October 2019, removing the words "European Union", now at the top of the travel document.

British passport holders do not need to do anything ahead of their current passport renewal date.

Nigel Farage was among those celebrating the change, tweeting: "Happy Brexmas!"

Powell, who served as private secretary to Thatcher from 1983 to 1990, added: "If we get their agreement to full alignment with the single market in return, it's a good deal". "One of the most iconic things about being British is having a British passport", Lewis added.

Margaret Thatcher's key foreign policy adviser has mocked commentators rejoicing over the decision to change the colour of the British passport, describing it as nostalgia driven by ageing Eurosceptics.

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