EU chief mocks ‘so important’ blue passports

Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt has taken a swipe at the UK’s decision to revert to blue passports following its break from the European bloc.

The former Belgian prime minister posted a photo of bright blue European Union passports piled up alongside each other with the caption: “If we had known in advance that blue was so important to the UK, we could simply have replaced our passports by this one.”

The post follows another on Saturday, which dismissed Theresa May’s reasoning behind the move.

:: British passports will go back to blue after Brexit, ditching EU burgundy

She said: “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 #bluepassport will return after we leave the European Union in 2019.”

But Mr Verhofstadt hit out at the announcement.

He tweeted: “There is no EU legislation dictating passport colour. The UK could have had any passport colour it wanted and stay in the EU.”

:: Opinion: A passport is about national identity

Theresa May arrives for an EU summit

Image: Theresa May said the change was an ‘expression of our independence and sovereignty’

The Government announced its decision to change passport colours on Friday after the UK adopted the current burgundy hue when it joined the European Union.

The new passports will be one of the most secure travel documents in the world with new features protecting against fraud and forgery, according to the Government.

It said the current paper-based picture page will be replaced with a super-strength plastic polycarbonate material that will be more difficult to alter.

Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Leaving the EU gives us a unique opportunity to restore our national identity and forge a new path for ourselves in the world.”

New and old passports

Video: UK passports turning blue after ditching EU burgundy

Tory MP Andrew Rosindell, a long-time campaigner for bringing back blue passports, called it a “great Christmas present for those who care about our national identity”.

He added: “The fanatical Remainers hate it, but the restoration of our own British passport is a powerful symbol that Britain in Back!”

However, the announcement was criticised by others – including Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said it was “insular, inward looking, nonsense”.

More from Brexit

Labour MP David Lammy said Brexit was “turning us into a laughing stock”.

An online poll by Sky News showed 57% of 51,000 participants did not care about the colour of their passport.