In 2017 the UK government excitedly announced that the ‘iconic’ blue passport would be returning. Brexit talking head Nigel Farage declared: “In the 2016 referendum, we wanted our passports back. Now we’ve got them back!”
This writer was among many people of a certain age scratching their heads and trying to remember what blue passports had looked like. Surely they used to be black? I found an old one in a draw:
But nevertheless the reveal, from then-immigration minister Brandon Lewis, featured a design for the post-Brexit document that was unmistakeably blue. Grey-blue, but blue.
In the aftermath of the referendum, the actual power of a UK passport began to decline. And the government then faced ridicule when it announced that the new passport wouldn’t be made in the UK. Instead, a French-Dutch company had won the contract and would produce the passports in its factory in Poland.
The actual new passport
Images of the new passport in the flesh began to seep out a couple of weekends ago, only to be submerged by a news cycle full of flooding coverage. Now people are starting to catch up and the question of what constitutes blue is up for debate. The finished product is certainly very different from the 2017 mock-up:
Britons will once again be able to travel with a blue passport when the iconic colour returns for the first time in almost 30 years. pic.twitter.com/rBZ4bvu1Qn
— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) March 2, 2020
It’s really quite black:
Checking out my “iconic” new blue passport pic.twitter.com/L2dRftXePT
— Nick Taylor (@Nick_Tea) March 2, 2020
So much for bringing back the old colour:
The iconic 'blue' British passport – apparently 'an important part of our national identity' – actually turned out to be black because no one could remember what fucking colour it was #bluepassport
— AliBroom (@AliBroom3) March 5, 2020
After all, surely a passport is only as good as its ability to get you across borders?
I’d rather have a burgundy coloured EU passport that gives unrestricted freedom of movement to live, work, study and travel around 27 other countries than a blue coloured UK passport that doesn’t offer these freedoms. Please retweet if you agree. pic.twitter.com/eb0MniPG93
— Tanvir M M (@malmuk_tanvir) March 5, 2020
The blue / black conundrum had some people looking to George Orwell’s 1984 for a precedent:
'They were black. They looked black. Everyone referred to them as black. I remember it. I was alive then.' This was the thought Winston clung to as he worked through the archives, painstakingly changing every occurrence of the word 'black' to 'blue'. https://t.co/BTmTO9ZWE8
— Toby Venables (@TobyVenables) March 5, 2020
Maybe this will form part of the new citizenship test:
Honestly think this is some kind of test. If you're willing to say that this obviously black passport is blue, you're a good fit for Johnson's hard-Brexit Britain, where the truth is whatever the government says it is. Those of us who insist it's black will be unpersoned.
— Jim Caris (@jimcaris) March 5, 2020
Or it could, like so much about the Johnson / Cummings regime, be some kind of weird misdirection:
And so with the planet on fire, our nation withdrawing into isolationism, racism and the far right on the rise, this.. THIS.. is what matters so much to some.https://t.co/sMsaLdYUFF
— Simon Garrett 🎈 (@simonjgarrett) March 5, 2020
Anyway, the answer’s black.
Featured image via Twitter – Home Office / John Ranson for The Canary
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