Blue passports: Why do some people celebrate becoming less free?

I just don’t understand the whole blue passport thing. And I am not talking about the fact that it seems to be black rather than blue, or that we could have had blue (or is it black?) passports when we were still inside the EU, like Croatia has (as this Irish factcheck explains, burgundy was only ever a recommendation – and who cares anyway?).

I am instead talking about why it is seen as such a ‘win’ by those who champion Brexit. Because there is no win here. There is no upside.

A UK passport has been a permission slip to move permanently to pretty much anywhere in continental Europe. Want to retire to Italy? Study in Sweden? Set up a business in Germany? You’re already approved for all those things and more, simply because you hold a UK passport. Do you just want to go on holiday to an EU country without any bureaucratic fuss or without having to join the lengthy and slow-moving ‘all passports’ queue? If you had a UK passport then you were fine.

In the years ahead however a UK passport will be a downgraded document that merely enables you to seek permission to visit continental Europe, and to do so purely as a tourist. No right to move there. No right to work there. No right to start a business. No right to retire. Nothing except the right to ask permission to visit as a tourist for a strictly time-limited period.

There are not any new rights created to counterbalance what we’re losing. We don’t suddenly become able instead to move to Canada or South Africa or Singapore. We lose something and we gain nothing. And yet the blue / black passport has somehow come to represent why we have left and what we have supposedly gained.

I wonder if it is a sign of just how masterful those behind Brexit are that they can convince large numbers of people to celebrate something that symbolises the emptiness at the heart of Brexit. Or is it that our politics is now so polarised and so poisoned that logic simply does not matter – that symbols (like Trump’s Wall) are more important than anything else, even if they don’t make any sense?

It is a serious question, and I don’t know the answer. But we need to work it out if we are ever to get back in.

Image taken from this webpage and used according to this licence.

14 thoughts on “Blue passports: Why do some people celebrate becoming less free?

  1. Is inexplicable to any rational person but I suppose Brexit has become a quasi religion where belief and symbolism are everything

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  2. The mass brain washing of the many appears to have worked- their judgements are coloured by the promise of a little self sufficient island, a nirvana that does not exist. It can never be self sufficient, nor a democracy in the warped political climate that we currently have. The leavers cannot see how our country has so much to thank our European cousins for, they do not realise that most of our country originated from other countries throughout history. ‘Going it Alone’, is not going to succeed because by our very nature and needs as a little (and even ‘littler’ Britain), island and we cannot do so. Now that our Freedom of movement is gradually becoming a reality – we are cutting off the very things for which we were once praised, our country is doomed to fail and we will have nowhere to escape as we close the doors on our neighbours and as we are dragged along by the wealthy power mad fanatics who tell us they are doing everything we asked for!?!

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  3. Maybe it was something real and tangible in a Brexit muddle where even the most adamant Leavers had little more that was a given. It’s complete foolishness.

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  4. This, perhaps more than any other aspect of BREXIT is a matter of very deep sorrow and part of this sorrow is based on the fact that I just don’t understand, like you, how it will EVER be something to celebrate. I am totally ashamed of my country and feel like a prisoner to somebody else’s wants wishes and desires of their vision of a very small world…….

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  5. It is becoming more clear by the day … Johnson and his Cummings want complete control of us all ! Anyone who can’t understand that needs a brain scan ! He wants to be the dictator king >>>

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  6. As the comments above have said, it has become a cult of Brexit. I also believe that most of those that are celebrating it have rarely if ever, travelled or even have any intention of travelling. Because they don’t want to, they don’t want anyone else to either!! This is such a sad situation and judging from the vitriol on Twitter, it is difficult to see how this can move forward but I live in hope!

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    1. I rather liked the article about the passports and agree that it is a pretty insignificant change, but in response to Amanda; I’ve been travelling extensively for 50 years and have had a house in France for 30. The only difference will be for those few who might stay in EU for more than 90 days out of 180. I voted for Brexit not for selfish reasons or because I was brainwashed (at least I don’t think so?) or for sunlit uplands and Nirvana but because I believe the EU has become so big that it is no longer functional. I speak to many French, Dutch and Germans who think the same. The covid vaccine rollout being an example. Yes, there will be problems ahead but the status quo within the EU is under severe pressure as well. The best thing Gordon Brown ever did for this country was to keep us out of the Euro.

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  7. Brexit is a scam. From the foghorn of ignorance Farage flogging the right to go on a march to the big red bus and holocaust poster, doctored to represent a country overflowing with migrants, it’s foundation is built on fear, lies, ignorance and the promise of a better tomorrow at the expense of someone else. This scam fills the pockets of those perpetrating it and robs an entire nation of it’s rights and freedoms. If Boris Johnson sent everyone an email claiming to be the Prince of Foreignengy, who just needed their bank details in order to give them a share in the worth of the crown jewels, Brexiteers are exactly the cohort who would reply. The desperate, the greedy, those with an unidentifiable grievance and those whose sense of entitlement has gone unsatisfied. You need never wonder at how people are deprived of their life savings by a conman ever again. It would seem the British public are hot wired for it.

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  8. I have been working and travelling throughout Europe for over 50 years well before Schengen. Stopping at every hoarder to have my password and documents sometimes taking up to 60 minutes. What a change when in 1985 Schengen was signed, only the UK refused to join. I am so disappointed that we are leaving Europe we have had 75 years of peace, the end of the Cold War except when Yugoslavia collapsed. Now these countries are joining the EU and we are leaving 😪

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  9. It’s all about a low tax economy; a tax haven for the super rich to invest in. Freeport’s are the thin end of what is likely to be a fat wedge. These will provide shelters for all sorts of underhand and potentially illegal goings on, without hinderence. That is what ” taking back control” really means. The blue passport is just a symbol. Let’s face it; we are governed by a bunch of spivs and crooks, who don’t care in the least about anything other than their self interests. BREXIT was a means to an end. Unfortunately we also had a Labour opposition whose own agenda was meaningless; and ambivalent over the EU. However this was going at the last election, we would be facing an economic crisis sooner rather than later. Best invest in those tax shelters!

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  10. Much of the power of the ‘blue passport’ symbol is that it’s something tangible on the personal level, that could be interpreted as harking back to imagined ‘glory days’ of Empire. It’s hard for the average Joe to get to grips with how the complexities of international arrangements will affect his own life; there just isn’t any visible chain of links between that big picture and the small personal one, and it takes effort to follow the links that do exist. But offer him something he can hold in his hand as ‘proof’ that he’s now somehow different from Josef and Giuseppe, and it becomes a symbol of defiance completely detached from the actual shape of such difference.

    Of course, it helps that the myth of burgundy passports being ‘imposed by the EU’ has, as with the most effective lies, a kernel of truth. Britain was indeed obliged to change its passports by an outside body, and the change resulted in going from blue to burgundy. But the change was imposed on all countries, within and outside the EU, so that all passports were of a standard format (on behalf of the aviation sector, I think) – it’s a change Britain would have to make anyway. As has been stated previously, burgundy was never prescribed in the standard, but was just a default suggestion that most states didn’t consider significant enough to change.

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  11. “Want to retire to Italy? Study in Sweden? Set up a business in Germany?”

    The thing is, the overwhelming majority of people in the UK have no intention of ever doing any of these things, so losing the right to them is not perceived as a loss.

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