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Brexit-bashing civil servants deliberately attempted to sabotage UK’s EU exit – EXCLUSIVE

The allegations made by a former contractor to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) who worked in the EU Exit unit of the department. The whistleblower, who worked in IT, said that a new computer service contract was put in place after the 2017 election. But it was a downgrade unable to deal with the department’s existing work, let alone the increased demands of Brexit, he claimed.

The fresh workload from Brexit included fishing licences and control of rare materials like ivory among nine new major responsibilities.

The whistleblower, who was based at Defra’s Digital Data and Technology Services (DDTS) department in Reading, said that as a result of him raising concerns about the computer system which is used to deliver Defra’s responsibilities a contract extension was cancelled and he was blacklisted from government work.

He also claimed that senior managers in Defra did not hide their contempt for Brexit and Boris Johnson, insulting the Prime Minister in front of junior employees when he appeared on departmental television screens during the election calling the Prime Minister a “w*****, bulls****** and twat”.

The claims have been denied by Defra, however, former environment secretary Theresa Villiers has confirmed to the Sunday Express that she held a meeting about the allegations while still in office and ordered an investigation.

The meeting took place the day before the reshuffle where Ms Villiers lost her job, with senior Tory backbencher Andrew Bridgen and saw civil servants ordered to leave the room.

Ms Villiers told the Sunday Express: “I was shocked and I asked for an investigation immediately.”

She has also asked her successor George Eustace to ask him to ensure the investigation happens.

And the Sunday Express has been told that the new environment secretary has requested a meeting with Mr Bridgen and the whistleblower.

A dossier has also been sent to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Dominic Cummings who is running a recruitment campaign for new civil servants and warned senior mandarins that they “need to work with us not against us”.

They come amid growing tension between the government and the civil service, some of whom ministers claim have tried to undermine Brexit.

Concerns were raised last week over civil servants resisting Home Secretary Priti Patel’s new immigration policy in the Home Office.

The whistleblower, who has nearly 20 years experience working for high level tech companies, warned that a switch of service contract in 2017 meant the system could not cope with its then current responsibilities, such as processing farm subsidy payments. This was before a further nine responsibilities were transferred from the EU to be dealt with by DEFRA.

The department changed the contract to one run by French tech giant Capgemini while Michael Gove was environment secretary. But the new contact also downscaled the old, the whistleblower said.

He said: “The switch was like going from a Bentley to an old banger. It was literally downscaling the IT support. No two ways about it.”

According to the whistleblower, an early sign of the chaos emerged when he arrived at Defra and asked to see the contract. After six weeks Defra was still unable to produce it.

In November 2019 a major incident took place at the department’s data centre in Telford, when another company logged on to a server owned by Capgemini and managed to break it. The chaos lasted for three weeks.

The whistleblower said:  “It was all hands to the pump, there were directors involved because it went on for three weeks.”

Another problem was that the contract prevented Defra from fixing problems itself  for anything other than the most serious failures.

According to the contractor there were at least 20 second level problems going on at any time and “thousands” of less serious issues, none of which Defra could address itself.

He said: “It was a big problem that we were not able to intervene and not normal practice.”

Shortly after starting with the department in September 2019, the whistleblower was seconded to the EU Exit team where he was shocked by the lack of preparation.

“It became clear to me under Theresa May there actually was zero preparation for Brexit. When I came in they were literally at the early stages of preparing for Brexit.

“They had one process alone they had 750 defects. We were about six days away from [EU departure date] 31 October. As you know the Benn Act changed things and the rest is history.”

The whistleblower’s contract was originally going to be extended to March 31 but on December 17, the same day as he put in a critical report about the Capgemini arrangement, the extension was cancelled.

He also claims that Defra blacklisted him which prevented him getting a job with another government department which he had been due to interview for.

He said:”There are many good people there who just want to do a good job but everything I experienced gave the impression that some senior civil servants in key roles were happy for the system to fail because of their dislike of Brexit. That was evidenced in their defence of the setup.”

“For Brexit to be given a fair chance to succeed it cannot be that the pro EU senior civil servants hinder the process by playing the age old game of keeping the Secretary of State blind to what’s actually going on. And this is the case. 

“The civil service is there to enact government policy and nothing more. There are some fantastic civil servant’s who agree with everything I have said.”

A Defra spokesman said: “These allegations are fundamentally untrue.  

“Defra has made extensive preparations ahead of the end of the transition period, which is why we brought in new skills to build brand new national IT systems. 

“These were delivered in record time and we have consistently received positive feedback from industry users that have tested these services.”

The department said it has completed the development of, and extensively tested with industry users to ensure readiness for live operation, a variety of new national systems.

Capgemini has declined to comment.

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Politics

Hispanics help push Sanders to lead as Nevada caucus-goers' first choice: Edison Research Poll

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders appears to have an early edge in the Nevada Democratic caucus with the largest share of initial support from Hispanics, union families and white college-educated women, according to polling agency Edison Research.

Edison, which compiles voter polls and live election results for media organizations including ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News and Reuters, said its polling of early voters and state caucus-goers shows Sanders “leads in the first preference” vote.

Nevada will award Democratic delegates after party members state their preferences at hundreds of caucus locations around the state. Many Democrats may eventually switch their choice during the caucus meeting if the candidate they support does not garner enough interest.

Here are some highlights from the Edison poll, which was based on interviews with 2,746 Nevada Democrats, including about 1,780 as they entered early voting sites earlier in the week and another 966 on Saturday at 30 locations around the state:

** Among Hispanics, 53% said they were going to support Sanders ahead of the caucuses. Hispanics make up nearly one-third of the state’s population.

** Among those caucus-goers who are members of a labor union or have family members in a union, 34% said they planned to caucus for Sanders. About one in four said they were part of a union family.

** 62% said they support replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan. That initiative, also known as Medicare for All, is a signature issue for Sanders and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. It was criticized earlier this month by the state’s 60,000-member Culinary Workers Union in what was seen as a boost for more moderate Democrats who are still in the race.

** 43% of Democratic Nevada caucus-goers say healthcare is the issue that mattered most to them when deciding which candidate to support. Another 25% said it was climate change, 18% said it was income inequality and 9% said foreign policy.

** Among white, college-educated women – a voting block seen as key to Democrats’ chances for victory over Trump in the November general election – 22% said they planned to caucus for Sanders, compared with 19% for Klobuchar, 18% for Warren, 17% for Buttigieg and 13% for Biden.

** Sanders had the largest share of support from caucus-goers of all age groups, except those 65 and older. Among the 65-plus group, 28% said in entrance polling that they supported Biden, 20% supported Klobuchar, 14% supported Buttigieg and 12% supported Sanders.

** 52% of those participating in the Democratic caucus are doing so for the first time. A record number of Democrats are expected to show up at the Nevada caucuses, in part because of population growth in the state and also the party’s decision to allow residents to vote early this year for the first time.

** 65% say that when picking a candidate to support, they are thinking mostly about that person’s electability instead of whether the candidate agrees with them on major issues.

** 66% of Democratic caucus-goers said they considered themselves to be liberal. Another 31% said they were moderates and 3% were conservative.

** Among political moderates, support was largely split among Sanders, Biden and Buttigieg, with those three candidates getting a little more than 20% each.

** Most of Nevada’s caucus-goers came with their minds made up. Eighty-three percent of Democratic caucus-goers said they made their pick for the party’s presidential nomination more than a few days before the caucus.

** About half of the poll respondents were college graduates. The other half did not have a college degree.

Edison will update its results later in the day after the caucuses have ended.

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Politics

Sanders leads as Nevada caucus-goers' first choice: Edison Research Poll

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders appears to have an early edge in the Nevada Democratic caucus with the largest share of initial support from Hispanics, union families and white college-educated women, according to polling agency Edison Research.

Edison, which compiles voter polls and live election results for media organizations including ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News and Reuters, said its polling of early voters and state caucus-goers shows Sanders “leads in the first preference” vote.

Nevada will award Democratic delegates after party members state their preferences at hundreds of caucus locations around the state. Many Democrats may eventually switch their choice during the caucus meeting if the candidate they support does not garner enough interest.

Here are some highlights from the Edison poll, which was based on interviews with 2,496 Nevada Democrats, including about 1,780 as they entered early voting sites earlier in the week and another 716 on Saturday at 30 locations around the state:

**Among Hispanics, 54% said they were going to support Sanders ahead of the caucuses. Hispanics make up nearly one-third of the state’s population.

**Among those caucus-goers who are members of a labor union or have family members in a union, 36% said they planned to caucus for Sanders. About one in four said they were part of a union family.

**Among white, college-educated women – a voting block seen as key to Democrats’ chances for victory over Trump in the November general election – 24% said they planned to caucus for Sanders, compared with 18% for Klobuchar, 17% for Buttigieg, 17% for Warren and 12% for Biden.

** Most of Nevada’s caucus-goers came with their minds made up. Eighty-four percent of Democratic caucus-goers said they made their pick for the party’s presidential nomination more than a few days before the caucus.

** 51% of those participating in the Democratic caucus are doing so for the first time. A record number of Democrats are expected to show up at the Nevada caucuses, in part because of population growth in the state and also the party’s decision to allow residents to vote early this year for the first time.

** 64% say that when picking a candidate to support, they are thinking mostly about that person’s electability instead of whether the candidate agrees with them on major issues.

** 63% said they support replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan. That initiative, also known as Medicare for All, is a signature issue for Sanders and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. It was criticized earlier this month by the state’s 60,000-member Culinary Workers Union in what was seen as a boost for more moderate Democrats who are still in the race.

** 43% of Democratic Nevada caucus-goers say healthcare is the issue that mattered most to them when deciding which candidate to support. Another 25% said it was climate change, 18% said it was income inequality and 9% said foreign policy.

** 66% of Democratic caucus-goers said they considered themselves to be liberal. Another 34% said they were moderates and 3% were conservative.

Edison will update its results later in the day after the caucuses have ended.

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US health firm handed £7million to help NHS identify most ‘expensive’ patients

A US healthcare firm praised by Donald Trump has been handed £7million to help the NHS identify its most “expensive” patients.

It is running a nine-month programme to train managers to rank people according to their risk of illness.

The move has sparked fears more could be turned down for ops because of factors like age or weight.

And it raises fears the NHS could be on the table in a trade deal despite PM Boris Johnson’s claims it is not for sale.

The contract was agreed between NHS England and Optum – which assesses patients for America’s privatised insurance-led system.

It divides NHS patients into high, medium and low risk groups and identifies “rising risk groups” such as those at risk of Type 2 diabetes.


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The training has been rolled out all over the country including Dorset, Berkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and Leeds.

Managers say it helps them allocate resources more efficiently as they try to save cash amid a historic Tory funding squeeze.

But half of local care groups are already restricting who can have once-routine procedures such as cataract surgery and hip and knee replacements.

Anti-privatisation campaigner Ellen Lees, of We Own It, said: “These revelations are the latest in a long list of toxic private sector involvement and a classic example of eroding our NHS bit by bit.

“The prospect of people being shut out of treatment flies in the face of a service based on the principle that everyone’s needs must be met. What’s frankly terrifying is the idea that this training could be rolled out more widely. It should be stamped out.”

NHS England – including chairman Lord Prior – has held a string of meetings with Optum in recent years.


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The US firm has already done NHS advisory work in Dorset, Harrow and other areas but this is the first time the company has trained managers how to identify high-cost patients.

Former boss Larry Renfro boasted to investors in 2016: “We’ve been planting seeds and I’d say that we’re strong with the NHS. We’re strong with [the regulator] NHS improvement. We are getting stronger with the Minister of Health, as well as the Secretary of Health.”

Optum is one of the biggest health insurers in the US and has had regular meetings with President Trump.

The outgoing chief of its parent firm UnitedHealth Group was once America’s highest-paid boss – on £50million a year.

Stephen Hemsley held a series of talks with NHS chiefs in 2016 and 2017 and was praised by Donald Trump after a meeting at the White House in 2017.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens used to be an executive at UnitedHealth Group but we understand he was not involved in the Optum deal.

NHS England said: “The NHS works with organisations for the sole purpose of offering better care to our patients.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “The NHS is not and never will be for sale. No one will be excluded from treatment because of the cost.”

Optum said: “We use our extensive experience to train the NHS in analytics, so the NHS can identify groups of patients who already have chronic illness and provide treatments which keep patients as well as they can be.”

UnitedHealth Group is the biggest health insurance company in the world when measured by revenue, making £184billion

last year with profits of more than £10billion.

It employs more than 300,000 and already gives the NHS contract negotiation and medication management services. in 2018, it won dismissal of a case alleging that it had defrauded the US government’s Medicare insurance scheme of more than £771million.

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In Nevada, voters heavily favor government-run Medicare for All plan: entrance polls

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Nevada voters entering caucus sites for the Democratic presidential contest on Saturday heavily favored a government-run Medicare for All healthcare plan, according to early entrance polls, a positive sign for front-runner Bernie Sanders.

Sanders, a senator from Vermont who has made the issue a centerpiece of his campaign, faces a test of his front-runner status in the Democratic White House race in Nevada. The early entrance polls showed six in 10 Nevada voters at the caucuses backed the proposal, a version of which is also backed by Senator Elizabeth Warren.

The polls also showed nearly nine of 10 caucus-goers made their choice for president in the last few days before voting, and six of 10 want someone who can beat President Donald Trump more than someone who agrees with them on major issues.

The Nevada caucuses came a day after the news broke that Sanders had been briefed by U.S. officials that Russia was trying to help his campaign as part of an effort to interfere with the Democratic nominating contest.

Trump tweeted on Saturday that he expected to win in Nevada in the general election in November, and alluded to the reports that a Russian disinformation effort was supporting Sanders.

Sanders, a self-identified democratic socialist, has surged to the top of opinion polls nationally and in Nevada after strong performances in the first two nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire earlier this month.

“And what I say to Mr. Putin, if elected president, trust me you are not going to be interfering in American elections,” Sanders told reporters on Friday in California.

After days of delay and mistrust caused by a technical meltdown during the Iowa caucuses, Nevada Democratic Party officials said in a memo to campaigns on Friday that a telephone hotline many volunteers “were already familiar with” would be the main method of reporting precinct caucus results, not digital tools.

Precinct chairs will also text a photo of their caucus reporting sheet as part of efforts to strengthen the processes. The party said it understood “just how important it is that we get this right and protect the integrity of Nevadans’ votes.”

While Sanders’ rivals will try to blunt his momentum in the caucuses, they each face significant challenges of their own.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Warren are looking to jump-start struggling campaigns after poor finishes in the first two states, while former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar are hoping to prove they can appeal to Nevada’s more diverse electorate.

On Friday evening, Sanders spoke to about 2,000 people in Las Vegas, revving up the crowd with vows to take on “the corporate elite” and the “whole damn 1%”.

He said both the Republican and Democratic establishments were getting nervous, wondering how they could stop his campaign, to which supporters cried: “You can’t!”

RECORD TURNOUT?

Voters will turn up at more than 250 sites around Nevada to take part in the caucuses.

Four days of early voting in Nevada this week drew more than 75,000 Democrats, more than half first-time voters, putting the party in position to surpass the turnout record of 118,000 in 2008, when Barack Obama’s candidacy electrified the party.

At a Democratic debate in Nevada on Wednesday, candidates launched scathing attacks on Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, who has been rising in the polls on the back of a self-funded advertising blitz but is not competing in Nevada.

Warren’s campaign said on Saturday it had raised $14 million ahead of the caucuses, double a target it set after a lackluster performance in New Hampshire, and fueled by donations following her fiery debate barrage aimed at Bloomberg.

The next primary will be Feb. 29 in South Carolina, followed by the Super Tuesday contests in 14 states on March 3 that pick more than one-third of the pledged delegates who will help select a Democratic nominee.

Trump, who narrowly lost Nevada to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, visited Las Vegas on Friday and predicted another round of Iowa-style chaos for the Democrats at the caucuses.

DIVERSE POPULATION

Nevada is the first nominating state with a diverse population after contests in predominantly white Iowa and New Hampshire. More than four of every 10 voters in the Nevada Democratic caucuses in 2016 were non-white, according to entrance polls.

Sanders has led national polls among Hispanics, who represented about one-fifth of the Democratic electorate in the 2016 Nevada caucus. He has led the last five opinion polls in the state.

Klobuchar and Buttigieg lag in support among non-white voters, who are a core part of the Democratic electorate and typically a significant factor in primary battles.

Buttigieg’s campaigning on Friday included meetings with Native American tribal leaders to discuss protections for public lands and the environment.

Biden is counting on a robust showing next week in South Carolina, where he has enjoyed strong support among the state’s sizable bloc of African-Americans, although Sanders has pulled even with him among black voters in some recent polls.

Annette Irving, a retired African-American nurse and administrator, said she was set to caucus for the first time for Biden at Coronado High School in Henderson.

“At this point he’s probably the best to beat Donald Trump in that he has the experience of being in the White House before,” she said.

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Rebecca Long-Bailey and Princess Diana’s poignant meeting thanks to raffle win

It’s hard to imagine that this excited little girl presenting a bouquet to ­Princess Diana might one day lead the Labour Party.

It was 1988 and Rebecca Long (the Bailey came later with marriage) was only nine years old.

She won a raffle of employees’ ­children to present flowers at the ­opening of the Shell Stanlow refinery on the Manchester Ship Canal, where her docker dad Jimmy worked.

Her mum Una prepared her for the role. Rebecca remembers: “It was a huge deal and my mum made me wear rollers the night before.”

Unlike her Labour leadership rival Lisa Nandy, Rebecca has no interest in abolishing the monarchy.


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She says: “There are more ­important things to do, like transforming the economy.”

Now 40, Rebecca Long-Bailey is drawing up plans to do just that – a cradle-to-grave policy for a future Labour Government.

Aspirations

She calls it “aspirational socialism”, which begins with free childcare, free school meals and free education for life. Eviction fears would be banished by more home ownership and secure tenancies and rent controls, with a decent pension on retirement.

Rebecca says: “The role of government is the betterment of its people.

“We need a decent, properly funded society where everyone can achieve their aspirations as a basic right.”

She hasn’t got an idea of cost, but agrees it would run into hundreds of billions of pounds.


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Last month she gave Jeremy Corbyn“10 out of 10” as a person – and blames the “mainstream media” and Tory social media for wrecking his election chances last December.

But despite reports JC might like a Shadow Cabinet position, Rebecca doesn’t believe he would take one.

“I like him,” she says. “But I genuinely don’t think he wants to do it.”

Voting begins tomorrow for the next leader with the result on April 4.

RBL, as she is known within the party, trails behind Sir Keir Starmer in both MP and local party support.

She blames Brexit, a disunited party and anti-Semitism for the ­election loss.

“We’ve got to now build trust with the Jewish community,” she says. “No one who is anti-Semitic should be in the Labour Party. That also applies to sexists, racists and Islamophobes.”

But Rebecca has faced hate campaigns herself on social media.

She says: “Some are sinister and threatening. I try not to look at them. They comment on the way you look. Even my eyebrows have got their own Twitter account.

“If I was on Twitter all day I’d be sitting in a corner crying or driving round to those who said nasty things. I would have a role, if elected, to show how people should behave in public. It costs nothing to be kind.”

Rebecca was just 16 when she saw the effects of deprivation.

Her Saturday job was in a Manchester pawn shop and she remembers an elderly lady coming in weekly to pawn a ring for £10 to give cash to her daughter for food. She would return the next week to redeem it for £12. Once she was a few days late and her ring had gone for auction.

Rebecca says: “She was devastated. So was I. People would come in with rings or whatever and beg for £15. They were worth more but we could only give £10. It was soul-destroying.”

She went to Chester Law School and says of her peers: “Most had been to private school and they wanted to know what my parents did. No one had ever asked that.”

Rebecca grew up in Manchester’s Old Trafford in a fervently political household. She recalls: “Mum would test me on the names of PMs and presidents from around the world. I was only seven.”

A career in law followed and she specialised in legal aspects of the NHS and local authorities providing joint services. Seeing the NHS broken up with private finance deals irked her.

Politics beckoned in 2010 when she took her retired mum to Labour Party meetings. She says: “I remember someone saying people who could afford it should pay for hospital meals and I could feel my anger build up.

“I started campaigning locally but when someone said I should think about being an MP I just laughed.”

She eventually put herself forward for candidate selection but on her first attempt came second.

“In bed that night sat next to my husband I burst into tears,” she says.

But she bounced back and in 2015 was voted in as MP for Salford. She rose through the ranks swiftly to become Shadow Business Secretary.

Rebecca is married to marketing director Stephen Bailey, 46, and they have a son aged seven.

I suggest that adopting a double-barrel name might be something of a hindrance for a Labour leader.

“Nothing is too good for the working class,” she replies.

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New Commons HR boss ‘vision’ is ‘shut the f*** up or get the f*** out’

The House of Commons’ new human resources and diversity boss revealed her “vision for HR” on Facebook– “shut the f*** up or get the f*** out”.

Mandy Eddolls shared the comment with friends in a public post.

Its discovery is likely to infuriate ­Westminster staff in the light of recent bullying and discrimination scandals.

Mrs Eddolls put the “My vision for HR” image online in a Facebook group called “I’m no pancake expert but I know a tosser when I see one”.

It features a drawing of a woman at a desk and the words “From where I see, you have two options. You can either – Shut the f**k up, or – Get the f**k out.”


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At the time of the 2012 post, she worked in HR for the Environment Agency.

After that job, she had HR roles at other institutions before becoming the Managing Director HR & Inclusion at the Commons in May.

The online remark has emerged after a probe found the staff of MPs faced an ­“unacceptable risk” of abuse.


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The independent investigation heard that some people who work for MPs have to cope with “very serious sexual assault”.

Others had heavy objects thrown at them in bouts of “uncontrollable rage”.

Many felt they had to put up with abuse to further their careers.

Mrs Eddolls said her post was “very obviously a joke, which I regret and doesn’t reflect my real views”, adding: “I remain deeply committed to helping the House become a great place to work where everyone has a voice and can flourish.”

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‘Not in the EU anymore!’ Britons DEMAND new post-Brexit blue passports are made in the UK

Documents revealed French firm Thales have been given the contract to oversee the new blue British passports and that they will be made in Poland. A staggering 96 percent of Express.co.uk readers believed the new passports should absolutely be made in Britain, amounting to 7,820 participants in the exclusive poll. Up to four percent disagreed, and said they had no problem with them being made in the EU.

This was 328 people in the poll. Up to 79 people clicked the ‘don’t know’ option.

Data was collected on Saturday February 22 with 8,227 people taking part.

Comments widely reflected the result of the poll.

One read: “For the love of mercy, absolutely, how can we be a sovereign nation and NOT produce our own passports!!?? HOW?”

A second comment read: “To award the contract overseas is the equivalent of of an ‘import’ at a time when we should be concentrating on “in house” manufacturing.”

Another said: “We need to start building and buying British. We have the skills within our country to do these jobs. Come on Boris print the new passports in the new United Kingdom.”

A fourth added: “We aren’t in the EU anymore!”

Brexiteers are celebrating as blue passports will return after almost three decades to mark the UK’s departure from the EU.

READ NOW: First pictures of brand new blue British passport revealed [NEWS]

The documents will replace the burgundy passports which were rolled out in 1988. The first new-look passports will be issued from the beginning of March.

And it is expected that all new passports will be blue by mid-2020.

In another change, the back cover of the documents will now feature embossed floral emblems of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

And the passports are said to be the greenest and most technologically advanced yet, with new and updated security features to keep personal data secure.

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The contract to produce the documents was awarded to French firm Thales and they will be made at the company’s factory in the Polish town of Tczew, after Theresa May gave the plan the go-ahead when she was Prime Minister.

However, the passports will continue to be personalised with the holder’s details in the UK.

Home Secretary Priti Patel hailed the return to the “iconic” blue and gold design.

She said: “Leaving the European Union gave us a unique opportunity to restore our national identity and forge a new path in the world.

“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.”

And Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proudly posed with one of the new passports.

The blue documents have already caused a reaction on social media.

One Twitter user said: “Can’t wait to get mine. Fortuitously, mine needs renewing this year.”

Another excited person tweeted: “When I renew mine, mid-summer, I better get a blue one!”

A third posted: “Can I replace my existing one, even though it has 8 years to run? Happy to pay for it of course?”

Another said: “The only caveat is that they’re not produced here in the UK.”

Meanwhile, pro-EU campaigner Femi Oluwole tweeted: “The #bluepassport will literally be worth less than the red one which let us treat 31 countries as our home. Celebrating a symbolic change which by all objective standards will be worse for the British people… Is there anything more ‘Brexit’ than that?”

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British passport becomes new white and gold dress as internet argues over colour

British citizens have been issued burgundy passports for the last 30 years, but as of next month that's about to change.

As Britain cracks on with Brexit, campaigners demanded the British passport be changed from EU red to it's former deep blue shade.

The government were more than happy to comply and today announced that the first batch of new blue passports would be launching in early March 2020.

A picture of the new passport was shared online and it's causing a bit of debate amongst social media users.

People on Twitter have been left particularly baffled by the travel document's true colour, with some thinking it looks more black than blue.


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Labour MP Jess Phillips shared a snap of the new passport, comparing it to the white and gold dress, which caused controversy online last year as people tried to work out what colour the garment was.

She wrote: "I feel like this is that weird dress all over again because in my memory these passports were black and this is black and everyone keeps saying it's blue."

More than 2,300 people liked her tweet with many people agreeing with her.

One person replied: "Is this the govt trolling us, a bit like the blue dress/pink dress thing a few years back? Maybe you only see blue if you are a true believer. The rest of us see black because we are lacking the Brexit gene."


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"Definitely black," commented another user.

Someone else proclaimed: "I TOO SEE BLACK."

A different user decided to dig out their old passports to see whether the ones from over 30 years ago were blue or black.

He shared a picture of four passports, writing: "My last four passports over 54 years," he wrote. "Three black, one burgundy. I seem to have missed the iconic blue one."

However not everyone agreed and a number of people argued they were obviously blue.

"UK passports were navy blue this is navy blue and unless you are over 100 you’ve never had a black passport," tweeted a different person.

Another said: "I can see from the photo it’s very dark blue. If it were true black, it would be indistinguishable from background but for the gold lettering and white strip."

A third added: "It's very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very dark blue."

Do you think the new British passport looks blue or black? Let us know in the comments below.

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Politics

Labour leadership prediction: Corbyn to win again as Momentum still has huge grip on party

Labour MPs Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy are battling it out to take on the leadership of the party after Jeremy Corbyn suffered a humiliating defeat in the December general election. Conservative Greg Smith MP believes Rebecca Long-Bailey, seen as another hard-left leader, could be elected in the April election due to the huge grip Momentum has on the party. Ms Long-Bailey, who previously gave Mr Corbyn a 10 out of 10 for his leadership skills, has said she would include outgoing leader in her shadow cabinet if elected.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Smith said: “The Labour Party have stuck to a particular course since 2015 whereby they’ve moved significantly to the left of British politics.

“Momentum, in particular, operates below the radar, in technical terms, have really got their grip into the Labour Party membership.

“I would be surprised if the winner of that contest was not from the Corbynite/far-left wing of the labour movement.

“I hope for the sake of the country it isn’t.

“But looking at the state of the modern Labour Party, I think they’ve got a lot of looking in the mirror to do to try and even accept why it was their course and their platform was so heavily rejected in December.

“For the good of democracy it would be better to have at least a credible Opposition in the House of Commons.

“I think there are faces in the leadership election like Lisa Nandy who would probably bring that calm reflection on where they’ve gone wrong.”

He added: “If they want to elect another far-left leader they’re not going to get any complaints from me.”

Keir Starmer is 1-8 with bookmaker Coral to be Labour leader race and is the firm odds-on favourite.

Rebecca Long-Bailey is second best with Coral at 7-1, while Lisa Nandy can be backed at 16-1.

“Keir Starmer is long odds-on to win this Labour leadership race and if he does not go on to replace Jeremy Corbyn, it would be a huge surprise, according to the latest betting,” said Coral’s John Hill.

Jeremy Corbyn has announced he would be thrilled to join Labour leadership hopeful Rebecca-Long Bailey’s shadow cabinet after the left-wing candidate guaranteed him a role should she win the contest.

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Mr Corbyn said although he finally acknowledged the party had catastrophically lost the election in December, he still felt he had a strong role in Ms Long-Bailey’s cabinet.

When asked, he said he would be “happy to serve” in a shadow cabinet led by Ms Long-Bailey, who up against Sir Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy in the race to replace him, the Mirror Online reports.

When asked about the job offer, Mr Corbyn said: “I’ll see what it is, I didn’t know I was going to be offered anything.

“I’m happy to serve the party in any capacity. My whole life has been about making my contribution in Parliament, holding the Government to account and for speaking up in policy areas.”

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