British authorities have formally removed the European Union label from the passports they issue for UK citizens despite failing to leave the bloc as demanded by a withdrawal deadline imposed by the bloc.
The BBC published images of the cover of the passport issued for a citizen after March 30 when Britain had originally been expected to leave the EU.
This comes as the United Kingdom is still part of the EU as a Brexit deal signed between the government and the bloc in November has failed to pass the British parliament.
The UK has now until Friday, April 12, to ratify the deal. Otherwise, it should choose between leaving without a deal or extending its membership for a long period.
The UK interior ministry (Home Office) said issuing passports without EU label had been done in expectation of the previous withdrawal deadline. A spokeswoman of the ministry said passports with EU label will continue to be issued for “a short period” until stocks of old passports run out.
“There will be no difference for British citizens whether they are using a passport that includes the words European Union, or a passport that does not. Both designs will be equally valid for travel,” said the spokeswoman.
The British government has already adopted plans for replacing the current burgundy passports with the old dark blue ones, a decision welcomed by supporters of Brexit who view the document with the old design as a symbol of their eventual emancipation from the EU.
Britons voted 52 to 48 in the June 2016 referendum to leave the EU after more than four decades of membership in the bloc. The divorce has proved much more difficult than expected as the prospects facing the country after nearly three years of negotiation include a disorderly exit, a soft Brexit or no Brexit at all.