Do you remember ‘Old Blue’? In use from 1921, the familiar blue British passport was replaced with a machine-readable burgundy design in 1988, whilst the last of the Old Blues expired in 2003. Passports are traditionally derived from four main colours – red, green, black and blue – and in 1926 the League of Nations described the old blue design as ‘perfection itself’. For many travellers of a certain age, the true colour of the British passport will always be blue.
Now that Article 50 has been triggered, talk of bringing back the vintage blue passport has returned and the Home Office confirmed recently that it intends to redesign the travel document, the Guardian reports.
A Home Office spokesman dismissed the claims that the move is linked to Brexit, commenting: “The UK passport is routinely redesigned every five years to guard against counterfeiting. “We are launching the procurement process now to ensure there is sufficient time to produce and design UK passports from 2019 when the current contract ends.
“The timing of any potential changes to the passport after the UK has left the European Union has not been set.”
However, it is a hotly debated topic, especially among pro-Brexit Tory MPs, such as Andrew Rosindell, who told the Press Association: “The restoration of our own British passport is a clear statement to the world that Britain is back.”
He continued: “The humiliation of having a pink European Union passport will now soon be over and the United Kingdom nationals can once again feel pride and self-confidence in their own nationality when travelling, just as the Swiss and Americans can do.”
Critics claim that the £500m colour change is an absurd and unnecessary additional cost to an already burgeoning Brexit bill.
For Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, it is £500m that could be better spent elsewhere. "The real source of humiliation is a Government worrying about the colour of our passports while a social care and NHS crisis rages,” he commented.
What do you think of the proposed changes? Are they an unnecessary distraction from Brexit’s process, a symbol of reclaimed freedom or a nostalgic throwback?
Whatever your thoughts on the blue passport debate, don’t forget to book travel insurance.