by Senior Reporter, Patrick Sawer and Helena Horton, The Telegraph, December 28, 2017
In the run up to the referendum on our membership of the European Union one of the central demands of those wanting to leave was a return to old style dark blue passports.
But while it has now been confirmed that the 'iconic' colour of passports issued before Britain switched to the European-wide burgundy tone will be making a return, it has emerged that it might not be quite the shade Brexiteers remember.
Mock-ups of the new passports to be introduced in 2019 show it to be blue, but it has been pointed out that the pre-1988 passports appeared to be very dark blue, if not black.
The Home Office has confirmed the new passports "may not immediately look like the old passport people remember because these became darker as they got older."
If the new passport covers are made with the current, modern material, they are unlikely to change colour over time.
Announcing the change back to a blue passport 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.”
Brandon Lewis, the Immigration Minister, said added: “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.”
However the Home Office said last night: “We are going back to the original colour of navy blue, but it may not immediately look like the old passport people remember because these became darker as they got older.
“We’ll be working on the new colour with the supplier, once they’ve been appointed, but we are going back to the navy blue colour of the past.”
The Home Office said the blue cover would mark a return to the colour first adopted in 1921 and used until the UK joined the EU, when the burgundy format was agreed and adopted.
Sources pointed out that the size would not revert to the pre-1988 version, with the smaller dimensions of the EU passport being retained so that they can be inserted into standard size passport control machines at airports around the world.
Neither would the new passport include the cut out sections on the front in which the holder’s name was written in ink by a civil servant at the issuing office.
However, ministers emphasise they would include a raft of new security measures, such as new, “super-strength plastic polycarbonate material”, which is said to be more difficult to alter than the current paper-based picture pages.
Reverting to a blue passport was one of the demands of many of those who urged voters to leave the European Union in last year’s referendum.
Conservative MP Julian Knight, one of those who led campaign to revert to the old passport, said: “Before Brussels got their hands on it the British passport was once one of the most elegant and recognisable in the world – the League of Nations even described the design as ‘perfection itself’!
“Our vote to Leave gives us a great opportunity to revive this classic British icon: a return to ‘Old Blue’ would be a welcome symbol of the fact that we are a proud, independent country.”
But the announcement that the burgundy passport is to be ditched in favour of the old blue was greeted with scepticism by many.
Michael Crick, the veteran TV political correspondent, 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.”
Paul Brannen, the Labour MEP for north east of England said: “If you view the 1950s & 60s through rose tinted spectacles then the passport was blue. Otherwise it was black.”
David Banks, a medial 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 ever had in the first place.”
This article was written by Senior Reporter, Patrick Sawer and Helena Horton from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].