What a lot of blather about passports…

According to this morning’s review of the newspapers on the BBC website, “The Daily Mail vents its anger…” Whoa! Doesn’t it always. That newspaper never stops fuming over something or other.

If you look at the back page, there’s a V-shape vent to allow the energy generated by all that anger to escape in a little row of furious exclamation marks. It’s like a perpetual motion machine fuelled by fury.

What’s the cause of today’s fuming?

Oh, that amusing story about the contract for producing the new blue passports going to an overseas firm. Isn’t that all the Brexit bother in a nutshell? A lot of blather and bollocks about symbols rather than substance?

Looks that way to me, although the editor of the Daily Mail begs to differ – loudly, furiously and with an extra scoop of pomp.

The Mail’s front page is a classic, with the usual shouty headline: “STAND UP FOR BRITAIN – FOR ONCE!”

Above that is one of those the-Mail-bellows-from-its-favourite-barstool sub-headings: “Today the Mail has a question for Britain’s ruling class: Why DO you hate our country, its history, culture and the people’s sense of identity?”

Wow! That’s a corker in a long line of tub-thumping twaddle. All that from a cost-saving bureaucratic decision to give the contract to the Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto instead of Britain’s De La Rue.

This is a great symbol for Brexit – for the extravagant pointlessness of the whole exercise.

A symbol nearly as potent as those pictures of Nigel Farage and his double chin throwing dead fish into the River Thames.

But back to the Mail’s venting. Who, you might wonder, are Britain’s ruling class who allegedly hate Britain so much? Well, at a guess – and I am taking a punt here – might it not be the government that the Mail usually supports?

Or the royal family; or the Mail itself? Who knows, but that’s what the world looks like through a spittle-flecked lens.

‘The thing is, Bill, it is symbolically spot on, capturing perfectly the illusory benefits of Brexit, while also hinting at how the brave new world will look in a year’s time’

The Usual Brexit Suspects – and there’s a film you wouldn’t want to see – lined up to fulminate.

Brexit-backing Tory MP Priti Patel called in “a national humiliation”, while grumbly old Bill Cash, chairman of the Commons European scrutiny committee, called its “symbolically completely wrong”.

The thing is, Bill, it is symbolically spot on, capturing perfectly the illusory benefits of Brexit, while also hinting at how the brave new world will look in a year’s time.

Symbol over substance is often the way. As Donald Trump introduces trade tariffs against China, it’s worth remembering all those pictures during the presidential campaign. You know, the ones showing that the Trump tatt, the Make-America-Great-Again baseball caps and so on, were all made in China.

A perfect symbol. As is the fact that imposing new tariffs on China could harm many American firms and introduce a tit-for-tall trade war that could unbalance the world economy.

But back to those passports. My burgundy one runs for another nine years, and I am happy with that. And I bet that when the “people’s sense of identity” blue passports are introduced, they will be underwhelming and a disappointment.

For once I am in harmony with the Sun which says that the £120m saved could be spent on the NHS. Switching to a foreign supplier may be annoying, but “c’est la vie” says the paper, using the sort of foreign expression that would give the editor of the Mail fury-venting indigestion.

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