The House of Lords last night debated why, on March 30, passports issued would no longer display the words “European Union”, despite Britain now agreeing to stay in the EU until October 31. Brexiteers have long wanted a return to the old fashioned dark blue passport but it appears the removal of two words has sent Remainers rushing for the rose-tinted glasses view of past passports. Baroness Ledford quizzed Home Office minister Williams of Trafford about the issue. She asked: “Not only are we still in the European Union but, after tonight, we may be so for another nine months, perhaps even a year.
“During that time, the UK and the Government will enjoy all the rights and obligations of EU membership, including that of sincere co-operation.
“Why are the Government refusing to pass on those rights to their citizens, who want ‘European Union’ on their passports?
“Why are they refusing to co-operate sincerely with their citizens or respect the will of those people.”
Baroness Williams did not agree and castigated Baroness Ledford for “not making a very good point” as the Home Office had to prepare for Brexit.
Conservative Lord Forsyth of Drumlean had a brainwave how to make everyone happy.
He said: “My Lords, this is a topical question. The noble Baroness, obviously, thinks that it is an urgent and important matter for discussion.
“Will the Minister perhaps consider getting the Home Office to produce disposable, peel-off stickers saying ‘European Union’ for the people who feel concerned about this matter?”
The debate then descended into farce when former Home Secretary Lord Blunkett weighed in.
He said: “Will the minister consider an alternative solution? Given the limbo in which the country finds itself, would it not be sensible to put a question mark after ‘European Union’?
“Then we could Tippex it out in due course.”
The Home Office minister smiled and joined in the fun, replying: “The noble Lord makes a funny point. I do not think that we should deface our passports, just to put that out there, but we can buy covers and put pretty much what we want on them.”
Whereas the Lords had a bit of laugh about the European Union passport problem people who raised the issue with HM Passport Office were given short shrift on Twitter.
Sharon Slinger said: “My daughter’s passport renewal has just been approved. Is there any way I can request one with “European Union” on the top?
“I renewed it now so she’d still have an EU one, and now seen that some are issued without :(“
HM Passport Office replied: “Hi Sharon, we issue over six million passports each year. Due to these high volumes, we are unable to provide our customers with any specific variation of the passport.”