Feeling Blue? Britain’s Post-Brexit Return to Blue Passports Causing Mixed Emotions

Remember Brexit? Well, in an effort to restore a sense of unity and national pride among Brits after the decision to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom will return to navy blue passports after Brexit. This will be the first passport color change for British citizens since 1988, when the kingdom adopted the burgundy color that was favored by the rest of the continent.

Prime Minister Theresa May commented recently, stating, “The UK passport is an expression of our independence and sovereignty – symbolising our citizenship of a proud, great nation. That’s why we have announced that the iconic blue passport will return after we leave the European Union in 2019.”

She further added that the return to the iconic navy-colored passports would serve as an expression of the nation’s “independence and sovereignty.”

The new travel document will be issued to those renewing or applying for a passport after October of 2019.

Great Britain had used their iconic dark navy passport from 1921 until they joined the EU in 1988. At that time, the kingdom adopted the popular burgundy passport color that was almost universally used throughout mainland Europe, though there was never any pressure or influence to do so. This move ruffled some feathers at the time among British nationals – a sentiment still held by many to this day. Reverting back to the nostalgic navy blue passport in 2019 has been welcomed by many Brits, though not all are in favor of such a symbolic gesture.

Political correspondent, Michael Crick, said, ”The new passport is nothing like the old blue, which was almost black. Having fished out my old passport, it’s wrong to describe that as blue. It looks black to me, and that’s how any witness would describe it in court.”

Many others have come forward in protest, as mockup versions of the upcoming 2019 passport show a document of much brighter blue than the one Brits had pre-1988 (the previously-used material darkened over time to a near black hue).


While arguing over shades of blue may seem a bit insignificant to some, others had more practical skepticism to the proposed change. Some claim the move to be an expensive stunt that shows poor use of money that could have been appropriated to a more important cause.  

According to the BBC, “Welsh Labour AM Lee Waters said: Few under 40 remember the blue passport. This move symbolises the nostalgia driven agenda of drivel from the #Brexit campaign.”Consumer Resource Guide

With PM May’s claim that this move will restore a sense of independence and nationalism to the UK, there may be some unintended consequences. Welsh Assembly Member, Rhun ap Iorwerth, took the idea of independence a step further in his condemnation, “My national identity is Welsh – whether that UK passport is purple or blue makes not a bit of difference to me…What’s important to me is what kind of future we can offer the people of Wales…People talking about blue passports doesn’t give them jobs, doesn’t put food on the table.”

In truth, the UK could have returned to blue passports at any point in the last 29 years, as switching to burgundy was never a requirement for EU inclusion. Those who oppose the move feel that this tactic is being used to simply gain sentimental support for Brexit, rather than signify any true change in independence or national identity.

Going Green…

While many Brits are busy arguing over blue and burgundy, many others are going green. The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin has reported record-highs of Irish passports being issued in the past year (almost 800,000 in 2017).

According to Express UK, “The number of Britons registering as Irish has also soared by 95 per cent.” The surge in Irish passport applications by UK citizens has risen by almost 30,000 from the previous year, an indicator that many Brits are uncertain about the strength or standing of their UK passports after Brexit.  

At present, UK nationals can qualify for Irish dual citizenship if they were born in Ireland or have Irish parents/grandparents. Acquiring this passport was never necessary when both nations were part of the EU, but many Brits don’t want to lose their freedoms on the continent once Brexit takes effect.

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Author Bio:

Tyler Sorce is an American writer and digital nomad currently living in Lisbon, Portugal. In a past life he was a chef in Manhattan and Paris, follow his travels and favorite dishes on Instagram.


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