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Rollout of UK's new blue passports to begin in March

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Rollout of UK's new blue passports to begin in March
Copyright  Courtesy of UK Home Office
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The UK's first new blue passports for more than three decades will be issued next month, the government has announced.

Britain began giving out burgundy-coloured European passports in the late 1980s.

But bringing back the "iconic" blue passports became a key desire for Brexit supporters, who see it as an issue of national identity.

They will be made by Franco-Dutch company Gemalto, who won a contract for the new passports in 2018.

Now the UK's interior ministry, or Home Office, has announced the first blue passports will be issued in March.

By the summer, all new passports issued will be this colour.

"Leaving the European Union gave us a unique opportunity to restore our national identity and forge a new path in the world," said Home Secretary Priti Patel.

"By returning to the iconic blue and gold design, the British passport will once again be entwined with our national identity and I cannot wait to travel on one."

Nigel Farage, who heads the Brexit Party, had called the return to the blue colour a "tangible victory" of the referendum.

Gemalto, the company that will make the passports said in a statement: "Following the country's decision to leave the European Union, the award of the contract was challenged by some politicians and sections of the media."

"However, the Home Office confirmed that the procurement process, which was conducted in strict compliance with EU regulations, had delivered the best value and a high-quality solution for the country."

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Nigel Farage shows his burgundy British passport.AP Photo/Frank AugsteinFrank Augstein

The blue colour was first used in 1921, the Home Office said.

But although most EU passports are burgundy, it is not a requirement. Croatian passports remain blue.

There will be a new symbolic image on the passport to represent England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.