Is this it? I thought it was meant to start playing a tiny, tinny version of Land of Hope and Glory and red, white and blue confetti would burst out when opened. As was completely predictable to anyone not in the market for snake oil and fool’s gold, the new passport entirely fails to make up for what Britain has lost by leaving the European Union.
Various scam artists of Brexit said the spoils of a Leave vote would be something to be proud of but what I hold in my hands is deeply mediocre and quite embarrassing, like contemporary Britain itself.
Talk about broken promises – it’s not even the strong, regal navy blue that was talked up in the tabloids and by Home Secretary Priti Patel who claimed the return of the “iconic blue and gold design” would “once again be entwined with our national identity”. Well, it’s here, and what I’m looking at is dull matt black.
For some the colour change and its oblique symbolism was deeply exciting, but in Brexit Britain not even the manufacturing of our bureaucratic documents has gone smoothly. Are those who chased after these dubious rewards happy now? Do they sit and stroke the cover of their own passports pretending they’re navy, and that the colour of the thing means anything at all?
Forget that Brexiteer pipe dream of ruddy-cheeked Brits abroad beaming with sovereign pride holding their post-Brexit passports aloft. British travellers are likely to look even more tired and strained under the strip lights of airport security, where we’ll be standing in longer queues, as Germans on mini-breaks zip straight through. This is life in the slow lane, baby. Get used to it. Britain is stuck here for the foreseeable.
At the European table, Britain is the oblivious uncle nobody is listening to, sitting in the corner muttering and picking gristle out of his teeth, three conversations behind. Sure, these islands got a kick out of being spiteful to the neighbours, dancing around and sticking middle fingers up to France throughout the whole sorry Brexit campaign, but hazy memories are all anyone got out of the experience.
Three years ago when passport chat was at peak excitability, Tory MP Andrew Rosindell claimed he’d found the Burgundy passport “embarrassing” and repeatedly referred to it as ‘pink’ as though identifying it as a threat to his masculinity. “National identity matters and there is no better way of demonstrating this today than by bringing back this much-loved national symbol when travelling overseas,” he said.
I’ve got plenty of time to contemplate the let-down of this bigged-up passport because, now we’re out of the Schengen zone, I’m having to hoof it over to the Finnish consulate at an ungodly hour to ask nicely for a Visa, all of which is costing money and time I took for granted before.
Can you believe we’ve thrown away the ability to simply rock up to our European neighbours’ doors without faffing about with stressful paperwork in advance? I still can’t! What an idiotic move that was, huh?