Pro-EU politicians and commentators incensed by the return of Britain’s iconic ‘Old Blue’ passport were accused of peddling ‘fake news’ after claiming it would take money away from homeless children.
“A country that would spend £500m to change the colour of a passport while children sleep on the streets is a country whose priorities are wholly out of whack,” sniffed James Caan, a minor celebrity best known for his role on the Dragon’s Den programme.
The comment has received 27,000 retweets and 43,000 likes as of the time of writing, largely from Remain supporters who reacted to news of the new passports by dismissing them as completely unimportant while also, paradoxically, being utterly infuriated by them.
Some really strange responses to the blue passport announcement. eg:
“The colour of the passport is totally unimportant, so I’m going to get really angry about the colour of the passport!”
— James Cleverly (@JamesCleverly) December 22, 2017
Labour MP Angela Rayner also got in on the act: “Children homeless [and] Citizens starving, NHS short of funds, Police cuts, School budgets cut, Navy unable to patrol or set sail, Army numbers lowest since Napoleonic wars defence cuts, lack of teachers [and] nurses, council budgets cut in half,” she announced.
“[B]ut we can find half a billion for Blue passports?”
“For fuck’s sake. I don’t care about the colour of my passport, I do care about my constituents’ jobs and living standards!” raged her colleague David Lammy, a diehard Remainer who achieved online fame when his hysterical plea to fellow MPs to “Wake up [and] stop this madness through a vote in Parliament” went viral in the days immediately after the public voted to Leave the European Union.
— Zac Goldsmith (@ZacGoldsmith) December 22, 2017
However, it soon transpired that Caan and Rayner’s anger over funds being taken away from essential services to fund the blue passports as a kind of vanity project was entirely misplaced.
“This is factually wrong. The new passport will not cost the taxpayer any extra, will you correct this misinformation? Huge thanks,” replied Brandon Lewis, the Minister of State for Immigration.
Martin Hoscik of MayorWatch fisked their accusations at length, explaining that money allocated for the new passports with or without a colour change, and with or without an exit from the European Union.
“No. The Government isn’t spending £500m to change the colour of the UK passports in 2019,” he explained.
“De La Rue was awarded a 10 year contract in 2009 to design and print passports. That contract expires – 2009 + 10 years – in 2019.
“The passport is redesigned as security measure every few years. The last new design was introduced in 2015. The new £500m contract would require a new design, Brexit or no Brexit. Changing the colour of the cover will be a minuscule element of the contract value.
“Even if, instead of just changing the colour and keeping the same material the new one featured some very fancy cover design, the cost would be a rounding error in the total cost.
“If you don’t see the merit in changing the colour, that’s fine. Like any design-related opinion, it’s an entirely subjective thing.
“But the whole ‘OMG! Thick Leavers are costing us £500m to change a cover to blue’ thing is bullshit. Not just fake news, actual bullshit,” he concluded.
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) December 22, 2017
Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage hailed the return of an updated ‘Old Blue’ design as an important symbolic victory, having used his EU-branded, burgundy-coloured passport as emblematic of Britain’s loss of sovereingty and loss of control over its borders throughout the EU referendum.
“To be honest with you, the words matter more than the colour. Taking off the words ‘European Union’ matters more than the colour,” he told LBC’s Nick Ferrari following the announcement.
“But the colour, going back to that navy blue, what it says is that normal service is being resumed — we’re becoming a proper country again,” he added.
“That’s what Brexit is going to bring us, and frankly, I couldn’t be happier.”