Moves by the Home Office to revert back to the old-style navy blue passport have been hailed as an important step in the right direction for British identity post-Brexit.
DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr told the News Letter he has campaigned for the old-style passports to be brought back, and is now delighted that Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis has announced the change “in a move to symbolise our national identity”.
Mr Lewis said: “Leaving the EU gives us a unique opportunity to restore our national identity and forge a new path for ourselves in the world.”
Mr Paisley said: “I campaigned for this, and indeed called for this immediately before and after the referendum.”
The EU-style burgundy passport has been in use since 1988, but some have lamented the move away from the older navy blue passports which Mr Paisley described as “iconic”.
“I think, first of all, it is important that the British identity and the United Kingdom identity is recognised around the world,” the North Antrim MP said.
“We are not part of the EU club anymore. Our passport had essentially become an EU travel document. It was not a standalone passport. It didn’t have the same standing as, say for example, a US passport. It was in my eyes downgraded.”
He continued: “We are now proclaiming again to the world when we travel around the world that we are an independent nation.”
The DUP MP said the old British passport was highly regarded.
“First of all, it is iconic,” he said. “Secondly, the British passport was the envy of the world.
“It was the desire of the world to be able to say ‘I am a British passport holder’.
“In fact there were probably two passports that people felt were the best ones to have in the world - one was the Swiss and one was the British.”
He added: “We are now reclaiming and re-emphasising the importance of the British passport.”