It turns out the ‘blue’ passport was just more Brexit bluster

New UK passport and old UK passport
John Ranson

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!”

Iconic? Blue?

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:

An old UK passport

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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:

It’s really quite black:

So much for bringing back the old colour:

After all, surely a passport is only as good as its ability to get you across borders?

The blue / black conundrum had some people looking to George Orwell’s 1984 for a precedent:

Maybe this will form part of the new citizenship test:

Or it could, like so much about the Johnson / Cummings regime, be some kind of weird misdirection:

Anyway, the answer’s black.

Featured image via Twitter – Home Office /  John Ranson for The Canary

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