Britain’s “iconic” blue passports are to be distributed once again after Britain formally leaves the European Union, the Home Office announced earlier.
The move is seen as a victory for ‘hard’ Brexit backers, who have been outspoken in their desire for symbolic gestures to mark Britain’s departure from the EU, though some MPs have taken issue with the largely symbolic move.
The current burgundy passport, which features the soon-to-be-redundant EU insignia, have been in use since the 1980s, when the EU formalised its need for similar passports for members states.
A return to blue passports was mooted even ahead of the Brexit referendum last year, with UKIP leader Nigel Farage particularly fond of producing his passport at public events to show his disgust with it.
Pro-Brexit tabloid the Sun also mounted a campaign to have the UK adopt the original blue colour.
Home Office minister Brandon Lewis 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 new passports will be phased in after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, although burgundy passports will be issued until the end of the current supplier’s contract in October of that year.
Remain politicians mocked the move, with Labour MP Chuka Umunna tweeting: “I have not had any constituent write demanding the return of the Blue passport - I have, however, had many asking where the promised £350m extra per week for the NHS is, which is immeasurably more important.”
The SNP’s Kirsty Blackman added: “Call me old fashioned, but I’d rather have guaranteed visa free travel in 27 countries than a blue passport.”