Passport to Nowhere

This is a picture of one of my old expired passports. It is, in fact, the first I ever had. It was issued to me in 1986, when I was 23 years old and a PhD student; I needed it to travel to a conference in France. It expired in 1996 (hence the docking of the top right corner) whereupon I had it replaced by a much better made Burgundy one.

I had never travelled abroad before 1986. I’m not from a wealthy family and we never had any holidays outside the UK. Given that,  I’m grateful that I ended up in a career that allowed me to travel quite widely,  within in the European Union and beyond.

I’m guessing that most of the people celebrating the imminent “return of the blue passport” recently announced by the Government never actually had one of these old-style passports, as they weren’t the colour of the ones UK citizens will have to carry after Brexit which will be Navy Blue, a tone much lighter than the blue of old passport, which is almost black.

This is, to me, just another example of the absurd hankering after an imagined past that never was that characterizes Brexit Britain.

Anyway, the colour of the next UK passport is of no real concern to me. Whatever its design it will not allow UK citizens to live and work freely within the European Union, so it will be of considerable less value than the existing ones.

Fortunately (for me, at least) I won’t be needing a British passport much longer and will have no need to renew mine for the downgraded version that will be mandatory after 2019. In fact when I get my Irish passport the first thing I’ll do is throw the old British one in the bin.

25 Responses to “Passport to Nowhere”

  1. My understanding is that passports remain valid, until they come up for renewal. I have recently renewed mine, and in 10 years, either this brexit madness will have been reversed, or maybe I will have secured citizenship of an EU country (though I appear not to be entitled to such). Or maybe I will no longer be fit enough to travel.But if they try to tell me my recently renewed burgundy passport will no longer be valid after 2019, there will be trouble.

    • telescoper Says:

      I renewed mine in 2016. My understanding is that it will still be valid as a passport but no longer confer the right of free movement within the European Union.

    • “In fact when I get my Irish passport the first thing I’ll do is throw the old British one in the bin.”

      It might be illegal to do so (property of the Crown and so on), but if you disfigure, bend, mutilate, or even destroy it, it will be invalid for all practical purposes.

    • “maybe I will have secured citizenship of an EU country (though I appear not to be entitled to such)”

      You might not be entitled in that you have the right to claim citizenship, but if you don’t have a serious criminal record and have means to support yourself and your family, you can probably immigrate to wherever you like (I am assuming that you wouldn’t want to immigrate somewhere where you would not be allowed to even if you did fulfill the requirements mentioned above).

      • telescoper Says:

        Are there any countries for which a `serious criminal record’ is a requirement for immigration?

      • “Are there any countries for which a `serious criminal record’ is a requirement for immigration?”

        Used to be the case for Australia. 🙂

  2. I’ve only ever had a burgundy passport. I never took a family holiday outside of the UK until I was 15 – I guess in 1998 or 1999. My uncle and aunt (perhaps out of pity!) invited me on what turned out to be a rather mad camping tour of about a dozen European countries in a mere three weeks.

    I’m ashamed and distressed at how we’re throwing away so much for so little. But I’ve done about all I can about it, so now I’m just trying to get everything as best prepared I can for the coming storm.

    I’m envious of your Irish passport, Peter!

    • telescoper Says:

      I haven’t got it yet! I understand there’s quite a backlog…

    • Bryn Jones Says:

      The UK has not left the European Union yet and many people are still campaigning hard to avoid it happening, including by changing the `will of the people’.

      • Bryn: The problem appears (at least to me) that a legal process, not just political one, has now begun. The political hurdles to vault are already looking formidable; the legal ones in revoking Article 50 appear beyond that. I am not optimistic.

      • Bryn Jones Says:

        There is no consensus among legal opinion on whether the invocation of Article 50 can be withdrawn, but many legal authorities believe it can be. Lord Kerr, who had a key role in drafting Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, argues that it can be withdrawn. The language used by senior figures within the European Commission and Council of Europe suggests they would be favourable to accepting a withdrawal.

        The biggest issue in my opinion is political in that many politicians feel constrained to accept the (marginal and unclear) result of the June 2016 referendum. My view is that would change dramatically were public opinion to change. The UK Government would become nervous about proceeding with leaving the EU with a hard `Brexit’ if opinion polls consistently showed 60% of the public opposed to leaving. Opinion polls consistently showing 70% of the public opposed to leaving would guarantee a referendum on the final negotiated terms and the death of Brexit.

        Anything is possible, provided public opinion changes.

  3. “In fact when I get my Irish passport the first thing I’ll do is throw the old British one in the bin.”

    Depending on how things play out, this might make it more difficult to return to Blighty, should you so desire. Perhaps you have no desire to do so, but there might be occasions (family illness, receipt of awards, colloquia, conferences) where you would like to go, if not to the UK then to somewhere within the UK.

  4. “they weren’t the colour of the ones UK citizens will have to carry after Brexit, which will be Navy Blue a tone much lighter than the blue of old passport, which is almost black.”

    I thought that the new ones were going to be same blackish colour as your old one, and that the govt pic of the new one had been photoshopped to make it look as blue as they had wrongly promised?

    Anyway, we always needed to show a passport to travel to and from France whether we were in UK, EEC or EU at the time. So I refuse to panic, leave for Ireland, Scotland etc.

    Anyone who thinks that the UK (or Ireland or France…) as an EU member was or is racism-free is mistaken. There is as good an argument for staying and fighting any negative Brexit consequences, as leaving.

    So there!

    • telescoper Says:

      You’re right to say that no country is free of racism but wrong to describe my move to Ireland as panic. I’ve thought about it a lot and planned it carefully. If you read the post you will see there are other reasons than Brexit for my move, not least the attractive salary and the freedom REF, TEF, etc.

    • “we always needed to show a passport to travel to and from France whether we were in UK, EEC or EU at the time”

      The UK is not part of the Schengen area, so passport controls are in effect in both directions, especially into the UK. But you don’t need a visa for France, neither for work nor for pleasure.

      Whether or not a country is part of the Schengen area (no border controls except in exceptional circumstances), one has the right to live and work in any EU country. That will indeed go away with Brexit (perhaps tourists can still come without a visa, but work will require a visa and one has no right to work in the UK if from the EU or vice versa (though perhaps some existing situations will be grandfathered in)). (As my history teacher used to say, just an observation, not a judgement.)

      • But EU members even under free movement can ask that migrants have a job before migrating or at least can ask them to prove that they are job-seeking with a good chance of finding employment after migrating. UK never applied this condition because we don’t like identity cards – despite our love of “blue” passports! So even EU free-movement has its (optional) conditions. So I don’t think that practically there may not be so much difference with a possibly similar Brexit version of free movement – hopefully.

        Anyway my main point is not to go overboard with Brexit anxiety. There are other social and foreign policy issues that also deserve our attention.

      • telescoper Says:

        Just to correct this. The UK never applied this condition because it couldn’t, owing to the dysfunctionality of the relevant government departments. It doesn’t have anything to do with ID cards.

      • “But EU members even under free movement can ask that migrants have a job before migrating or at least can ask them to prove that they are job-seeking with a good chance of finding employment after migrating.”

        Unless I am severely mistaken, any EU citizen can live anywhere in the EU he wants as long as he has the means to support himself and his dependents. As far as work goes, he has the same rights as any other EU citizen, i.e. one cannot preferentially hire people from one’s own (or any other country), just as “you’re from the Midlands” wouldn’t be valid in a rejection letter from Durham. (There are some restrictions, which expire after a certain time, for newer member states.) (Of course, one could require that employees speak the local language or anything else which is relevant to the job at hand.)

        I don’t think that one could deny someone entry unless they prove that they are job seeking, much less require them to prove that they have a good chance. But this is not necessary, since it is not possible to move from one EU country to another and immediately go on the dole. At least within the EU, migration first, job later happens rarely, if at all. I can live anywhere I want as long as I have enough money. If I don’t, I can look for work. If I don’t find it and have to go on the dole, then I cannot choose where I want to do that; it has to be a country of which I am a citizen or one where I have worked (and paid into the system) for some minimum length of time.

    • “Any EU national has the right to:

      look for a job in another EU country”

      ” receive the same assistance from the national employment offices as nationals of their host country”

      This doesn’t mean the dole, though.

      ” stay in the host country for a period long enough to look for work, apply for a job and be recruited.”

      The page is about finding work; one can of course stay forever without work if one can support oneself through other means.

      “Jobseekers cannot be expelled if they prove that they are continuing to seek employment and have a genuine chance of finding a job.”

      I don’t think that this implies the reverse, though, namely that they can be expelled if they cannot prove that they are continuing to seek employment and have a genuine chance of finding a job. There would be no grounds for such an expulsion. Of course, if one doesn’t find a job, and isn’t independently wealthy, then, since the dole is not an option, the choices are to leave or resort to a life of crime. Of course crime can be a reason for expulsion.

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