Politicians dismiss return of blue passports as 'insular nonsense'

PUBLISHED: 09:33 24 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:40 24 December 2017

Composite picture of the former British Passport (left) and the current version (right). Picture: PA Politics.

Composite picture of the former British Passport (left) and the current version (right). Picture: PA Politics.

Remain politicians have poured scorn on plans to bring back the blue cover for the British passport.

The spat was sparked by a Home Office announcement that British passports will again have blue covers once the UK has left the EU in 2019.

The new design, which will no longer include the EU insignia, will replace the EU-style burgundy cover that has been a feature of the UK passport since the 1980s.

Mrs May tweeted: “The UK passport is an expression of our independence and sovereignty - symbolising our citizenship of a proud, great nation.

“That’s why we have announced that the iconic blue passport will return after we leave the European Union in 2019. “

That prompted SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to tweet back: “The open, inclusive, civic, internationalist Scottish independence movement that I’m so proud to be part of could not be further removed from this insular, inward looking, blue passport-obsessed nonsense.

“Never has ‘stop the world, Scotland wants to get on’ felt more relevant.“

Conservative MP Anna Soubry, a Remain supporter, tweeted: “Stand by for street parties as blue passports return. Not sure they’ll make up for broken Leave promise of extra £350m a week for NHS.” The former Labour leader Ed Miliband added: “It is an expression of how mendacious (we can have a different colour now), absurd and parochial we look to the world.”

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.

There is no Brussels regulation which states that EU countries’ passports have to be a certain colour, simply a legally non-binding European Council resolution from 1981 which recommends burgundy red.

Mr Verhofstadt tweeted: “There is no EU legislation dictating passport colour. The UK could have had any passport colour it wanted and stay in the EU.”

Theresa May’s team have said stories that suggest changing the colour of passports would cost £500 million were “fake news”.

The redesign, which routinely happens every five years, will come as part of a £490 million contract which also covers printing and assembling passports and runs for 11-and-a-half years.

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