People in Britain are losing their minds over the new blue passports

British passport.
(Image credit: iStock)

What are red and black and blue all over? The British passports, depending on what era you're looking at. The new color of the passport, though, is dividing the nation after Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis' announcement Friday that the official documents will change from the current burgundy to "iconic" blue and gold next year as the nation leaves the European Union.

The navy passports were first used in 1921 and discontinued around 1988, The Guardian reports. The decision to shift back to the blue passport represents a victory for Brexit supporters. Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, for one, has complained of "the humiliation of having a pink European Union passport," explaining in April that "the restoration of our own British passport is a clear statement to the world that Britain is back."

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Members of the Labour Party, however, skewered the decision. "No one under 45 will have owned a blue passport, and most will think they're not worth £50 billion and crashing the economy," tweeted Labour MP Mary Creagh.

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Others pointed out that at the very least, if the new passports are meant to be a return to the old style, they get the color wrong:

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Despite all the hullabaloo, the burgundy passport was actually never forced on the United Kingdom. "Dumping the blue for burgundy was a decision taken by the U.K. in the 1980s after the then-[European Economic Community] member states tried to harmonize designs to make life easier for travelers and border officials," the BBC writes. Learn more about the symbolic decision behind the passport colors here.

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.