MY new passport arrived in the post the other day. It is one of the burgundy European Union passports; good timing for my money, although others would disagree.
The Tory MP Andrew Rosindell – a man of whom I had never heard until just now; but then he assuredly has never heard of me either – considers my new passport to be a source of national “humiliation”. The other day, he told the Press Association: “The restoration of our own British passport is a clear statement to the world that Britain is back.”
He said a lot of other bollocks-shaped things, too, but I shall spare you the full moaning monty. One detail was odd, though: he referred to the European Union passport he hated as being “pink”. No, it is burgundy, the colour of good red wine from France.
Fellow Tory twit-person Michael Fabricant was quoted as saying: “You keep your passport until it expires. If you renew after Brexit, I am hoping we’ll have new navy blue passports.”
I don’t really care what colour my passport is so long as it lets me in to other countries without fuss or bother. But fuss and bother is what these Brexit-loving Tories have for breakfast (memo to self: go and check the hob or you’ll be having burnt blogging porridge for breakfast again).
Nigel Farage, former Ukip leader turned freelance moaner, has often been pictured waving his old British passport while spouting the usual inflammatory nonsense, inflammatory nonsense being what he has for breakfast, dinner and tea.
Of course, Farage needs his passport as he is always flying off to the US to appear on Fox News telling Americans how Britain has gone down the pan. That’s the weird side of the likes of Farage: they express pride in Britain but love to slag Britain off – you know, the modern, real Britain we all live in, rather than the Empire-tinged one of rose-tinted imagination. You see, now that Farage and his ilk no longer have Europe to disparage, that old negativity is turning against Britain, or those parts of modern life they dislike.
As for the passport, the Home Office says the current one is due a redesign anyway – astonishingly, at a cost of £490m – by 2019, although a spokesman wouldn’t be drawn on the colour.
If the blue passport does return, it won’t be like the old one with his sturdy cardboard cover and cut-out showing your number. Passports must conform to international regulations, so any new British passport is likely be exactly like the one we have now, only with a blue cover instead of a burgundy one.
To which the only sensible response is: big deal; although plenty of people will want a new/old British passport, I am happy to be able to proclaim my European credentials for another ten years. And, by the way, isn’t navy blue just about the most boring colour in the world?
Sadly, whether British or otherwise, the photograph is always a horror story.
The colour of our passports is a totemic matter: one that shouldn’t count for anything but does for people with nothing better to worry about. It has been swept up in the Brexit blather. I know the one doesn’t necessarily equate to the other, but we should worry more about the fate of Reker Ahmed, the asylum-seeker, beaten up by a crowd of yobs in Croydon, than we should about the colour of our passport.
Was this assault on a defenceless boy who came to this country seeking our help in some way sanctioned by the toxic suspicion stirred up by Brexit? It’s hard not to worry that might well be the case. That seems a lot more important than the colour of our passports. Tolerance gets a bad name nowadays in the Trump-sphere, Brexit-shaped world, but sometimes we need to remember where intolerance can lead.