The return of the traditional blue British passport divided opinion when it was announced, with Brexiteers rejoicing and Remainers expressing anger online.
But now even those in favour of leaving the EU, who were exctied about the return of the old-style passport, are complaining that it’s not the right colour.
The dark blue document will make a return from 2019 in a move the government hope will symbolise the reclaiming the UK’s national identity.
The Home Office confirmed British passports will return to a blue and gold design after Brexit – but Brexiteers are complaining ‘it looks nothing like the old blue’. Left, a mock-up image of the proposed passport. Right, a genuine traditional British pre-1988 passport
Mock-ups of the new passports show it to be blue, but many keen-eyed observers are pointing out that the pre-1988 passports were very dark blue, almost black.
The Home Office has said the passports ‘may not immediately look like the old passport people remember because these became darker as they got older.’
Theresa May wrote on Twitter yesterday: ‘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.’
The Prime Minister said the blue passport symbolised Britain as a ‘proud, great nation’
Many said they ‘can’t wait’ to get their hands on the old-style document and welcomed it as the first symbolic change from Britain leaving the EU.
Brandon Lewis, the immigration minister, said: ‘Leaving the EU gives us a unique opportunity to restore our national identity and forge a new path for ourselves in the world.’
But after images of the proposed new passports emerged, there were grumblings about the colour.
Some users mocked the return of the blue passport, with one user pointing out that they resembled North Korean passports
The journalist Michael Crick tweeted a photo of his old passport and said: ‘The new passport is nothing like the old blue, which was almost black.
‘Having fished out my old passport, it’s wrong to describe that as blue. It looks black to me, and that’s how any witness would describe it in court.’
Martin Warne tweeted: ‘I worked in the Passport Office for 18 months.
‘Staff refer to those as Old Blues.’
Journalist Michael Crick dug out his old passport to show his Twitter followers just how different it compares to the mock-ups of the proposed ones
Paul Brannen, Labour MEP for North East of England said: ‘If you view the Fifties and Sixties through rose-tinted spectacles, then the passport was blue.
‘Otherwise it was black.’
David Banks, a media law writer and consultant. said: ‘They were never that colour blue, they were almost black.
‘So we’re ‘getting back’ a garish blue passport none of us had in the first place.’
The plan for the new-look travel documents are part of a £490million contract being offered by the Home Office, which has invited firms to apply to design and produce the new documents.
The government has stressed the cost would have been incurred anyway due to the current contract ending, and is not a cost of Brexit.
But the tender must be held under EU rules, meaning French and German companies will battle it out with British security company De La Rue for the contract. The Government will announced the winner in the new year.
The new blue and gold travel documents will be issued to those renewing or applying for a new passport from October 2019.
The blue British passport, like the traditional document pictured left, will make a return in a move to reclaim Britain’s ‘national identity’, the immigration minister said
The European Union-approved burgundy document was controversially introduced in 1988.
But the Home Office has confirmed it will be scrapped when we leave on March 29, 2019.
They will gradually be phased out so those with existing passports will not have to change them until they expire.
Burgundy-coloured new passports will still be issued without any EU insignia on them until the current passport contract expires five months after Brexit.
Tory MP Andrew Rosindell tweeted: ‘A great Christmas present for those who care about our national identity – the fanatical Remainers hate it, but the restoration of our own British passport is a powerful symbol that Britain is Back!’
Nigel Farage celebrated the move, but Tory rebel Anna Soubry poured cold water on the idea
Fellow Conservative Michael Fabricant added : ‘Our passport is an iconic statement of our nationality. The return to our traditional dark blue after Brexit is a restatement of our nation regaining it’s sovereignty and I welcome it.
‘We would have had to change our passports anyway to remove mention of the EU and to update its security features. So changing the colour back to dark blue is a relatively simple matter with no cost to the taxpayer.’
Could EU laws mean new British passports are made in Europe?
The company which produces passports for British citizens is UK money and security printing firm De Le Rue in Gateshead.
But the contract for who produces them is due to expire soon and, due to EU rules, a French and a German firm have also entered tenders.
Martin Sutherland, De Le Rue’s chief executive, has spoken of his hopes the documents will be made in Britain.
He told the Telegraph: ‘We have submitted our bid for the renewal, which is in 2019 and will last for 10 years.
‘It would be a shame if in the year of Brexit the contract was lost and the British passport was not printed by a British company.’
Announcing the change of colour, immigration minister Brandon Lewis said it was a change to symbolise our sovereignty.
He said: ‘Leaving the EU gives us a unique opportunity to restore our national identity and forge a new path for ourselves in the world.
‘That is why I am delighted to announce that the British passport will be returning to the iconic blue and gold design after we have left the European Union in 2019.
‘It will also be one of the most secure travel documents in the world, with a raft of new security measures to protect against fraud and forgery.’
The design will feature the Queen’s ‘Dieu et Mon Droit’ crest on its front in gold, instead of EU markings, while the pages inside will be decorated with patriotic UK scenes.
But not everyone is impressed with the idea.
Rebel Tory MP Anna Soubry 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.’
Costing citizens £72.50 – the same as current passports, they will feature improved security features to protect against forgery, including a biometric microchip.
The current paper-based picture page will be replaced with a new, super-strength plastic polycarbonate material that will be more difficult to alter.
The current European Union-approved burgundy document (pictured) was controversially introduced in 1988
The ‘Old Blue’ passport was introduced in 1920, but in 1981 Brussels demanded all member states should have a ‘European’ passport within four years.
In 2000 the UK fought off a plan to remove the Queen’s crest from the passport and possibly introduce the 12-star EU logo on its cover.
And in 2007, Brussels tried to remove the phrase ‘Her Britannic Majesty’ from the documents.
Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said the change symbolised our sovereignty
There have been numerous calls for the new passport to return to the dark blue colour after Brexit.
Mr Lewis told The Sun: ‘One of the most iconic things about being British is having a British passport.
‘I recognise that for many people who voted in that referendum, they want to see things that are different. One of the most iconic things about being British is having a British passport.
‘So from the first day we leave, new passports will look different and within five months they will be very different, because they will be dark blue again.’
The cabinet minister added: ‘We wanted to return to the dark blue passport because we recognise the string attachment people had to it.’