Theresa May’s resolution to alter passport color as expression of ‘independence and sovereignty’ might imply journey delays
European officers have warned that Britain’s new blue passports might spell journey delays and further paperwork somewhat than the improved freedom promised by the federal government.
Theresa Might sought to finish a tough political 12 months on a excessive word on Friday by confirming the return of navy journey paperwork after Brexit. She stated that abandoning the EU-style burgundy design launched in 1988 was an expression of “independence and sovereignty” that mirrored “citizenship of a proud, nice nation”.
However because the announcement divided home opinion alongside more and more entrenched cultural battle strains, sources in Brussels identified that holders of any color of British passport might see diminished journey rights after Brexit until there have been additional negotiating concessions.
One senior official stated that “relying on how negotiations go on all free motion points after Brexit” there was a major danger that British passport holders would lose the fitting to make use of a fast-track residents lane when travelling on the continent and can also be obliged to make use of a brand new visa waiver scheme.
The EU journey data and authorisation system (Etias) is modeled on the US Esta scheme and will require British travellers to Europe to register prematurely and make a small administrative fee.
Though an opportunity stays for Britain to retain fast-track privileges if there may be additional shift within the prime minister’s pink strains on immigration, British specialists stated this seemed unlikely. “In the meanwhile, it seems to be completely sure that we gained’t be capable of undergo the European residents lane as a result of the authorized code within the Schengen borders code says it is just for residents or folks with free motion rights,” stated Steve Friends, a professor of regulation at Essex College.
Brussels sources identified that the tendering course of for printing the brand new passports was prone to happen underneath present EU procurement guidelines, one thing that the present British contractor, De La Rue, not too long ago warned might imply they had been produced overseas.
Regardless of this, the announcement was loudly cheered by Brexit supporters on Friday after a string of current concessions from the federal government.
The House Workplace minister Brandon Lewis advised the Solar that “some of the iconic issues about being British is having a British passport”.
“You possibly can’t be a nation until you might have this image,” added a jubilant Nigel Farage.
The previous blue British passport and the burgundy European Union design launched in 1988. Composite: PR
Beneath a system first agreed by Margaret Thatcher’s authorities in 1981, Britain is just not legally obliged to make use of the identical burgundy design as most different members however agreed to take action in a joint decision of member states within the European council.
The settlement to harmonise sure design options adopted a backlash over extra bold plans for a community-wide passport, but it surely additionally included guidelines to place the phrases “European Group” in entrance of the identify of the member state.
Council members, together with Britain’s then ambassador to the EU, Michael Butler, signed a decision aiming to “strengthen the sensation amongst nationals of the member states that they belong to the identical neighborhood” however left an opt-out clause that’s nonetheless used right this moment by some members comparable to Croatia, which additionally has a blue passport.
Might stated Britain was selecting to return to its “iconic” blue design despite the fact that the shade proposed could be considerably lighter than the near-black navy utilized in earlier, bigger, UK passports. Nearly all of modifications since this era have been mandated by different worldwide aviation and safety agreements exterior the EU and can proceed to dictate the dimensions and content material of UK journey paperwork.
Consultants harassed that the steadiness between nationwide sovereignty and harmonising journey guidelines was extra complicated than altering the looks of a passport. “The truth is that the brand new passports will symbolise having fewer free motion rights,” stated Friends. “We will even nonetheless should undergo the gradual lane even when we’ve got non-expired [burgundy] passports. It is probably not vastly tougher, however it will likely be considerably tougher.
“It does appear odd to make a giant patriotic noise about one thing that makes it tougher so that you can journey.”
Fabian Zuleeg, chief government of the European Coverage Centre, agreed that it will rely upon the ultimate EU/UK settlement as as to if it will be tougher for British passport holders to journey in Europe in future. If UK residents had been handled as nationals of the European Financial Space, the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, then there could be no downside. “In any other case they might face longer queues”, although he harassed nothing was particular.
In Britain, opposition politicians rejected the prime minister’s declare that altering the color was a victory for sovereignty.
“What utter nonsense – this belittles our nation and your workplace,” stated the Labour MP Chuka Umunna. “We’ve all the time been an amazing nation, proud to be British and of our standing on the earth.”
The previous Labour chief Ed Miliband added: “It’s an expression of how mendacious, absurd and parochial we glance to the world.”
David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, stated Brexit was “turning us right into a laughing inventory”. “We’re swapping the fitting to stay and work in 27 nations for brand spanking new passports,” he stated. “However don’t fear, once we’re all stood within the airport for 4 hours we will stand within the queue and have a look at simply how blue they’re.”
Educational specialists on Brexit urged stay supporters to not underestimate the facility of symbolism for go away supporters. “It’s an indication of the instances that the mirror picture of it interesting to a sure phase of the British inhabitants is that it will likely be a complete turn-off to the opposite,” stated Anand Menon at King’s School London. “It’s a mirrored image of how divided our society is: some folks simply can’t compute and different persons are celebrating.”
The previous British diplomat Sir Simon Wall steered it was a measure rigorously focused at a demographic group most in want of buoying up after current concessions.
“It’s aimed on the Brexit era. Anybody underneath the age of 50 will hardly keep in mind some other passport than we’ve got now,” he stated. “It appears from her current efficiency that Theresa Might has belatedly grasped the truth that we have to make some fairly dramatic compromises and he or she wants a little bit of smoke as properly – that is a part of that.”
European officers distanced themselves from the unique resolution to undertake burgundy passports, stressing it was voluntarily agreed to by member state governments. “This has nothing to do with the European fee, nothing in any respect,” stated the spokesman Mark English.