If the sight of what Robin Day rightly called “here today and gone tomorrow politicians” scrabbling for the nearest microphone to issue blood-curdling threats against the dastardly Spanish over Gibraltar were not pointless, embarrassing and stupid enough, we now have the spectacle of the same opportunist fools, egged on by the Europhobic press, screaming about the colour of British passports. And no, it isn’t April 1st today.
British passports were either navy blue or black in The Good Old Days (tm). They were also larger and did not include the technology that helps guard against fraud. But in the late 1980s, passports became smaller and the colour changed to what is now described as “Burgundy”. For some Tory MPs and their press pals, this was roughly equivalent to seeing their cocks drop off. Well, it is always Male Tory MPs doing the whining.
So when someone got wind of a new contract going out to tender for the printing of passports after 2019, hacks added two and two, getting an answer which may have been four, but they didn’t bother to check. This had to mean that The Good Old Patriotic Blue British Passport was back. Let’s all stand in the fish tank and sing Jerusalem!
To no surprise at all, this made the front page of yesterday’s Express, which called Tory boneheads Andrew Rosindell and Andrew Bridgen “patriotic MPs” and quoted UKIP leader Paul Nuttall, the “Bad Bootle Meff”, approvingly.
No, it's not blue. But details, eh?
The Express, though, also upholds its mission to make as little sense as possible, telling of the allegedly hated Euro-Passport “The change led to howls of protest in Britain and cost taxpayers £1.5million”, while then approvingly claiming “BRITAIN’S iconic dark blue passports are set to make a return as part of a £500million post-Brexit redesign”.
Blowing £500 million is suddenly A Very Good Thing! It must be true (or not) because the Murdoch Sun has also run the story, eulogising “BEAUTIFUL IN BLUE Home Office readies plan to ditch burgundy passport for Brexit Blue document by 2019 … BRITAIN'S blue passport is set to return as part of a £500 million redesign following Brexit”.
But, as my friend John Band has mused, although it cannot be said with total certainty that this story is total crap, it most probably is. What has happened is that the contract to print passports runs out in 2019, and so another one is being sent out to tender.
Does this offend you? Best seek help
As we do not know what the status of the UK will be when the contract begins, it cannot be said with any certainty that the passports will be able to dispense with the words “European Union” on the front cover. Lead times and all that.
There is a precedent: although India became independent in August 1947, British coinage for 1948 retained the description “IND:IMP”, denoting that the King was Emperor of India. This did not disappear until 1949 coins were minted.
Moreover, Britain could have blue passports while an EU member state, as Croatia does right now. Yes, that means this is a totally synthetic rage. Worse, the uncertainty will probably result in the next batch of passports being the same colour and style as what is issued right now. What you will not read in the Express or Sun.